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ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY 



GEORGE BELL & SONS 

LONDON: YORK ST. COVENT GARDEN 
AND NEW YORK : 66 FIFTH AVENUE 
BOMBAY : 53 ESPLANADE ROAD 
CAMBRIDGE: DEIGHTON BELL & CO. 



i .. 



ACHIEVEMENTS OF 
CAVALRY 



GENERAL SIR EVELYN WOOD 
V.C, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., ETC. 



LONDON 

GEORGE BELL & SONS 

■897 



iUc\) 



r 






HARVARD^ 
UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY 
luU 12 1974 



^-A£ 



LONDON : 

PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, 

STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS. 



PREFACE. 



-•*•- 



Some years ago, when commanding the Aldershot 
District, I came to the conclusion that our cavalry 
officers were being discouraged at field-days by the 
system of umpiring, which was faulty, in that it did 
not represent the probable results of war. This was 
so because it was assumed that the effect of rifle fire 
on Service nearly equalled that obtained on the 
ranges, and also because we over-estimated the value 
of Artillery practice when guns were laid on moving 
targets. Moi^over, the application of the rules then 
in force was often to the prejudice of the Mounted 
branches. In conjunction with my friend and col- 
league. General Sir Drury Lowe, then commanding 
the Cavalry brigade, I endeavoured to correct such 
erroneous judgments, and to bring out truer solutions. 
The consideration of the subject, and careful 
study of many military histories, has demonstrated 
to me how essential it is that cavalry officers should 
know when and how to charge, and when to refrain 
from the attack. The importance of that Arm of 
the Service is as great now as ever it was, but its 



VI PREFACE. 

satisfactory employment, in these days of weapons 
possessing great range and precision, requires not 
only assiduous reading, but also experiences in all 
field duties. 

In 1892, after consulting, and being encouraged 
by all the cavalry commanding officers then in the 
kingdom, I wrote for the United Service Magazine, 
in an abbreviated form, six studies for the assist- 
ance of such of my young comrades as are not 
fond of close reading in military history. Having 
since enlarged these six chapters, I now again offer 
them, with six additional studies, to my younger 
comrades, and to, I hope, a wider circle of readers. 
The amplification I have made was desirable in order 
that I might show the necessity for discipline and 
sound administration in armies, to enable cavalry to 
be successful ; and I think it may also assist civilians, 
who are not usually conversant with the sequence of 
events in a campaign. 

It will be observed that England, Poland, and 
Russia each furnished the troops for only one of the 
feats I have selected, Austria two, and France two, 
while North Germany is credited with five out of the 
twelve Achievements. This is to be accounted for, 
so far as our cavalry is concerned, by the fact that 
though it had many opportunities of achieving suc- 
cess in the Peninsular War, yet the leading of its 
commanders, being more indicative of courageous 
hearts than of well-stored minds, was often barren of 
results. 



PREFACE. vii 

Cavalry officers can become efficient leaders, after 
adequate study, by two means : — 

Firstly, by war service. 

Secondly, by practice in cavalry, and combined 
manoeuvres. 

The former experience, costly in lives and money, 
is not often available, and the latter means has 
only been afforded to our Service during the last 
few years, and even in that time but to a very 
limited degree. The Prussians, on the other hand, 
have had manoeuvres of some kind ever since the 
time of Frederick the Great, i,e. for a century and a 
half ; and it is significant that during the twenty-two 
years, 1821-43, in which no large bodies of cavalry 
were assembled for manoeuvres in that country, 
there was a tendency to eliminate warlike exer- 
cises, and substitute parade movements for them. 
Until recently our regiments had not got beyond 
parade movements. I hope, however, that the British 
public is beginning to recognize the necessity for 
annual manoeuvres ; and, satisfied, as I am, that there 
is an increasing desire for improvement amongst the 
officers, I believe in the future of our cavalry. 

EVELYN WOOD. 

\st January^ 1897. 



ACHIEVEMENTS. 



No. I. 
VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES, 24/// AprU, 1794, 



I'AGB 



Four Squadrons (two Austrian, two English) coming on an 
enemy in position, attack and disperse 3000 men, capturing 
mrcc guns ••• ••• ••• ••■ ••• ••• ••• 3 

No. II. 

MARENGO, i^hjune, i8oa 

Five Squadrons, by charging opportunely, capture 2000 prisoners 
and the general in command, and convert an impending 
defeat into a glorious victory 19 

No. III. 

SOMO-SIERRA, 30/A November, 1808. 

A Light Cavalry regiment attacks directly in front an entrenched 
battery guarding a defile, routs its defenders, and captures 
I o guns ..• ... ... .*• •*. ... •>. ... 43 

No. IV. 

GARCIA HERNANDEZ, 2Zrd /ufy, 1812. 

Five British squadrons (King's German Legion) attack an infantry 
rear-guard of a French division, break two squares, and 
capture a general and 1000 prisoners 55 

No. V. 

DRESDEN, 2^th August, 1813, 

General Prince Murat, with 10,000 cavalry and Victor's Army 
Corps in support, kills or wounds 4000 men, and takes 
12,000 prisoners ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 79 



ACHIEVEMENTS. 

No. VI. 
WACHAU (near Leipsic), i6/A Octobtry 1813. 



PAGB 



Six thousand cavalry, under the command of General Prince 
Murat, capture 26 guns ; but for want of Supports are driven 
back by one regiment, which, being followed by others, 
recaptures all but two of the cannon loi 

Nos. VII. AND VIII. 
CUSTOZA, June, 1866. 

VII. On the Western flank of the line of battle, an Austrian 
squadron, in order to relieve an overpowered infantry 
brigade, attacks an Italian brigade of five battalions, and 
surprising it while in column of route, drives it back in con- 
fusion, taking two guns 141 

VIII. On the Eastern flank of the battle-field, two Austrian 
cavalry brigades attack two divisions, and though repulsed, 
arrest all day the advance of thirty-six Italian battalions ... 147 

No. IX. 

BENATEK, ^rdjuly, 1866. 

A squadron of Prussian Hussars, surprising a Hungarian battalion 
as it emerges from a wood, captures a Colour, 16 officers, 
and 665 of other ranks 163 

No. X. 

TOBITSCHAU, 15M fuly, 1866. 

Three Prussian squadrons attack batteries in position, and capture 

lo guns •.. *.. •.. ... ••• •.• ■•• ••• *// 

No. XI. 

MARS-LA-TOUR, 16M Augusty 1870. 

A cavalry regiment, with self-sacrificing devotion, extricates a 
defeated infantry brigade, saves several batteries of artillery, 
and checks the advance of 5000 men 193 

.No. XII. 

REZONVILLE, 16M August, 1870. 

Six squadrons charge in order to relieve overpowered infantry, 
and in wrecking six batteries and dispersing four battalions, 
check the advance of an Army Corps 207 



Mounted Infantry 241 



LIST OF MAPS. 



NO. PAGE 

I. The North-east Frontier of France in 1794 6 

II, The Country near Villers-en-Cauchies, to 

ILLUSTRATE THE ACTION FOUGHT 24TH APRIL, 

1794 *•* ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• To face 16 

III. The Campaign of 1800— Italy 27 

IV. Marengo, 14TH June, 1800 To face i^ 

V. X HE idOMO"i9lERRA ... ••• ■•• ••• ••• 45 

VI. The Defile of the Somo-Sierra To face ^z 

VII. The Country near Salamanca 56 

VIII. The Country near Garcia Hernandez. Cavalry 

Action fought 23RD July, 18 12 To face 76 

IX. The Country near Dresden 83 

X. The Western Side of the Battle-field of 

Dresden, 27TH August, 1813 To face 98 

XI. The Country NEAR Leipsic 102 

XII. Wachau (near Leipsic), i6rH October, 1813 

To face 138 

XIII. The Hilly Country near Custoza. Action 

FOUGHT 24TH June, 1866 To face 160 

XIV. Plains near Custoza. Action fought 24TH June, 

looo •«. ... ... ... ... ••« 1 jace loo 

XV. The Country near Koniggratz 165 



XII LIST OF MAPS. 

so. Pi 

XVL Be^iatkk (xcak Koniggratz). Acnox fought 

3U> JlXLTy 1866 T9face 174 

XVII« Thk Couhtry through which the German 

Armirs adtavced Dr JiTLTy 1866 178 

XVIII. hcTvan near Tobitschau— fought 15TH July, 

1866 To face \^ 

XIX. The Country about Mars-la-Tour. Action 

FOUGHT i6th August, 1870 Tofaeezfi 

XX. The Country ABOUT Rezokville. Action fought 

i6th August, 1870 To face 2^ 



Portrait of General von Bredow Frontispiece, 



I 

J 



LIST OF SOME OF 
THE AUTHORITIES CONSULTED.* 



"Great Campaigns in Europe, 1 796-1870," by Major 

C. Adams ; edited by Captain C. Cooper King. 
" Operations of War," by General Sir E. Hamley, K.C.B. 
"Historical Records of the British Army," published in 

General Orders, ist January, 1836 (15th Hussars). 
A letter from the Duke of York, dated Cateau, 25th April, 

1794, to the Secretary of State for War. 
An original report, by Lieut.-General Otto, dated Trois- 

ville, 25 th April, 1794. 
Report to Citizen Pille, Adjutant to the War Office, Paris, 

dated 25th April, 1794, by General Pichegru. 
" History of Europe," by Sir A. Alison. 
" History of the Peninsular War," by Napier. 
" History of the German Legion," by Beamish. 
" Wellington's Despatches," by Colonel Gurwood. 
** Sieges of Spain,'* by Jones. 
"War in Russia and Germany, 181 2-13," by Colonel 

Cathcart. 
Colonel Cooke's lecture on the Campaign, 1866. 
" Campaign of i866," compiled by the Prussian Staff 

(translated). 
"Letters on Cavalry," by Prince Kraft zur Hohenlohe 

Ingelfingen (translated by Colonel Walford, R.A.). 

* Many of these works are to be found only in the British Museum, 
to the librarians of which I owe much gratitude for their unfailing 
courtesy and assistance. — E. W. 



XIV LIST OF SOME AUTHORITIES CONSULTED. 

Memorandum by an officer of the General Staff, Berlin. 

" The Italian Campaign," by J. V. Le Moyne. 

'' The Austrian-Italian War," compiled from official papers, 
by Franz Crousse. 

The German official account of the 1870-71 War (trans- 
lated). 

" The Great Battles around Metz," by Franklyn. 

" Tactical Studies," by Colonel Lonsdale Hale, R.E. 

" The German Artillery," by Hofbauer (translated). 

*' Sedan : the Downfall of the Second Empire," by George 
Hooper. 

" Custoza." A tactical study, by Verdy du Vemois (trans- 
lated). 

A memorandum, with detailed information, relative to the 
Blatta stream, furnished by the Mayor of Tobitschau, 
1892. 

" Recollections of Caulaincourt" 

A memorandum compiled in the War Office, Vienna, on 
the action of Austrian Cuirassiers under the command 
of General Count Nostitz, i6th October, 1813. 

A compilation from the Archives of the Russian War 
Office, by Colonel Mishlaevsky, on the charge of the 
Cossacks of the Guard on the i6th October, 1813. 

** M^moires de Madame la Duchesse d'Abrantes." 

" Victories, Conquetes, D^sastres, Revers, et Guerres Civiles 
des Frangais." 

" Histoire des Guerres de la Revolution," par Jomini. 

Despatch of General Kellerman to General Victor, dated 
15th June, 1800. (By the courtesy of General du 
Miribel, Minister de la Guerre.) 

" Les Grands Cavaliers du Premier Empire," par le G&^ral 
Thoumars. 

•^M^moires du General Baron de Marbot." 

" Histoire de Napoleon," par Lanfrey. 

" La Vie Militaire et Politique de Napoleon," par Jomini. 



LIST OF SOME AUTHORITIES CONSULTED. XV 

" Histoire de Napoleon," par Norvins. 

" Histoire du Consulat et de I'Empire," par Thiers." 

" Histoire de TEmp-ereur Napoleon," par Capefique. 

" Un Aide-de-Camp de Napoleon : Memoires du G&^ral 

Comte de S^gur." 
" Les Polonais k Somo Sierra," par NiegolewskL 
" Memoires du Mar^chal Due de Raguse." 
"Histoire dela Guerre soutenue en Allemagne, 1813/' par 

Vaudoncourt. 
" Histoire de la Guerre de Portugale," par le Mar^chal de 

Camp, M. M. Sarazin. 
"Considerations sur Fart de la guerre," par le G^n^ral 

Rogmat. 
" Journaux des Sieges de la P^ninsule," par Belmas. 
"Historique du 69* Regiment." 
Manuscript de 18 13, par le Baron Fain. 
" Revue de Cavalerie." 

" Memoires du Gouvion St C)rr," par Vernon. 
" Etude Sommaire des Batailles d'un Siecle." 
" Histoire Militaire Contemporaine," par Canouge. 
" Campagne de 1870 : Les Cavaliers Frangais," par le 

Colonel Bonie. 
"The Franco-German War of 1870-71," by Colonel 

Borbstaedt. 
" Les Grands Batailles de Metz," par Alfred Duquet. 
" Journal d'un Officier de TArmde du Rhin." 
" Frangais et Allemands," par Dick de Lonlay. 
" Batailles, Combats, et Sieges," par Fr. de Kausler. 
" Histoire des Girondins," par A. de Lamar tine. 
"Tableau de la Campagne d'Automne de 18 13 en Alle- 
magne," par un Officier Russe (Boutaurlin). 
" Le Pichegru Campaign," par Citizen David. 
"Schilderung der Kriegereignisse in und vor Dresden, 

18 13" (Aster). 
" Die Gefechte und Schlachten bei Leipsig im October 1813." 



XVl LIST OF SOME AUTHORITIES CONSULTED. 

" Die grosse Chronik oder Geschichte des Krieges in den 

Jahren 1813-15." 
" Oesterreichs Kampfe im Jahre 1866." Durch das Bureau 

fiir Kriegsgeschichte. 
" Der Feldzug von 1866." 
" Bin hundert fiinf und siebenzig Jahre des K. P. Kiirassier 

Regiment Nr 5." 
" Kriegsgeschichtliche Bespiele," von Lettow-Forbeck. 
" Geschichte der Oesterreichische Kavallerie." 
" Die Thatigkeit der Deutschen Reiterei," von Herman 

Kunz. 
" Die Reiterei bei Vionville," u.s.w., von Kaehler. 
" Geschichte des (No. 7) Kiirassier-Regiments." 
"Geschichte des (No. 16) Uhlanen-Regiments." 
"Beiheft zum Militar-Wochenblatt, 1892." 
**Die Preussische Kavallerie in der Campagne 1866," 

dargestellt von L. V. Besser. 
" Geschichte des Magdeburgischen Husaren Regiments, 

No. 10, in der Campagne des Jahres 1866/' von 

Herbert von Thielen. 
" Beitrage zur Geschichte der Preussischcn Kavallerie seit 

1808," von E. von Colomb, General Lieut und Kom- 
r mandant von KasseL 

"Das Kreig in Deutschland und Frankreich," von Carl 

von Protho. 
" The War in America," by Colonel Rosser. 
" Three Main Military Questions of the Day," by Sir 

Henry Havelock, Bart. 
"The Further Training and Employment of Mounted 

Infantry," by Colonel Hallam Parr. 
" Lectures on Mounted Infantry," by Colonel Hutton and 

other Officers. 
"L'Infanterie Mont^e," par PjA.C. 



I** 



No. I. 



VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES, 

2^th Aprily 1 794. 



B 



ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 



No. I. 
VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES, 2\th April, 1794. 

IFour Squadrons (two AuBtrian, two English) coming 
on an enemy in position, attack and disperse 8000 * 
men, capturing three guns. 

In July, 1792, while both the Republicans and 
Girondists were arranging to dethrone Louis XVL, 
the Duke of Brunswick, who was perhaps the ablest 
of the commanders of the Allies, by his celebrated 
manifesto fomented a state of feeling in France 
which resulted in that country being at war, with 
some portion of Europe, for the next twenty years. 
In this document he warned the Assembly that if they 
•did not forthwith liberate the king, and return to their 
allegiance, they should be held personally responsible, 
and answerable with their heads ; and, moreover, he 
proceeded to threaten that if the Royal Family were 
insulted, Paris would be totally destroyed. The 

 The enemy's strength near Villers-en-Cauchies is variously com- 
puted from 5000 to 10,000 men. The battalions in the early wars of 
the French Revolution numbered usually 450 of all ranks. I have 
therefore estimated those actually attacked as 450 (men) X 6 battalions 
— 5 per centum casualties = 2500 + 500 cavalry and artillery = 
approximately 3000. 



4 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24, 

Republicans, on the 19th November, virtually chal- 
lenged all the neighbouring Powers, by passing the 
famous resolution that "they would grant aid and 
succour to every people disposed to recover their 
liberty." This was taken, as it was intended, as a de- 
claration of war against all monarchial governments. 

The Achievement noted above was, indeed, an 
astounding feat ; but the state of the French armies 
a hundred years ago goes far to explain the success 
of the Austrian and English troopers. No student 
of history will attribute want of courage to the French 
troops, and least of all will an Englishman do so 
if he has read the accounts of the long struggle in 
the Peninsula between the two now friendly nations, 
which lasted from 1808 to 1814. Our adversaries 
showed us then that they could not only behave as 
generously, but also act as bravely as the best of our 
own troops. 

De Lamartine, writing of his country's soldiers 
in the early days of the Revolution, thus portrays 
their condition at that period: "Anarchy had sup- 
planted honour in the army. Patriotism did not yet 
exist. Order and honour are essential for soldiers, 
and though anarchy does not necessarily destroy a 
nation, yet no army can be kept together without 
discipline." * 

Since the outbreak of the Revolution, in 1789, the 
bonds which bind soldiers together had in France 
been daily relaxed more and more. The Jacobins 
and Girondists, who were struggling for the mastery 
in France, agreed but in little; yet both parties 
realized that the army, as then existing, even after j 

many Royalist officers had been dismissed or had 

* *' Histoire des Girondists," par Mon. A. de Lamartine. 



1/94.] VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES. 5 

emigrated, was likely to prove an obstacle to schemes 
for the subversion of monarchial, or constitutional 
government. The factions, therefore, not content 
with attacks on Religion, and on much of what was 
best in civil life, lost no opportunity of fomenting 
ill-feeling between officers and the Rank and File of 
the army. These attempts soon bore fruit, and at 
the end of 179 1 the garrison of Perpignan, revolting, 
attacked successfully, and made prisoners, some fifty 
officers who had taken refuge in the citadel. The 
revolutionary parties thus attained their object, but 
their success in destroying discipline soon brought 
disgrace on the French troops. 

Just two years before the action which affords this 
fine example of a cavalry achievement, while the 
Girondists were stirring up the Parisians against the 
king, Louis XVI., the results of indiscipline were 
plainly shown in the army stationed in the North of 
France. On the 28th April, 1792, the French moved 
from their Northern frontier in four columns, intend- 
ing to concentrate at Brussels. 

General Biron (Due de Lauzan), an aristocrat who 
had identified himself thoroughly with the Republican 
movement, was personally beloved by his soldiers, 
which renders their conduct the more disgraceful. 
He had been encamped with 10,000 men at Quievrain, 
and had marched against the Austrian general 
(Beaulieu), who, with a small force, occupied some 
rising ground near Mons. Two regiments of cavalry 
forming Biron's advanced guard, on sighting Beaulieu's 
troops, were seized with a panic, and fled, crying, 
'• Treachery ! " Biron and his Staff made every effort 
to arrest the panic, but the soldiers ran over his body, 



ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24^ 



firing at him. The fugitives pillaged the military 
chesty and even robbed their chief of his private 
property as they fled unpursued. 

While this was going on near Mons, similar scenes 
were occurring near Lille. General Dillon, having 
left the city with 3000 men, had marched on Toumay. 
As he approached that place some 900 of the enemy 
appeared. On seeing them, Dillon's cavalry, shouting 

No. I. 




•CALK or MILKS 



9 

I I I > I I 






*9 



THE NORTH-EAST FRONTIER OF FRANCE IN 1 794. 

"Treason!" fled to Lille, and, although they were 
not pursued, abandoned guns, baggage, and transport. 
Dillon followed his troops back to Lille, and together 
with his Staff officer, was assassinated by them in the 
streets of the city, the soldiers afterwards dishonour- 
ing the two bodies. 

The generals had therefore ample cause to fear 
their own men ; while their superiors, administering 



1794.] VILLERS-EN-CAUCIIIES. 7 

the government, sometimes visited failure to achieve 
success with the penalty of death. Thus the Con- 
vention, In August, 1793, executed General Custine, 
who was commanding the army in Flanders, when 
Valenciennes was captured by the British troops ; and 
soon afterwards General Houchard, who had denounced 
his unfortunate superior officer, followed him to the 
guillotine. By this time the "Committee of Public 
Salvation " had overthrown the monarchial form of 
government, and had rendered the position of the 
officers of the army and navy so difficult, that they 
were in more danger from those nominally under 
their command than from the enemies of the Republic. 
The result of this insensate conduct of the Govern- 
ment was, as regards the efficiency of the troops, 
deplorable. St. Just, in his report to the " Committee," 
wrote, on the lOth October, 1793 : "The administra- 
tion of the armies is over-run by brigands. . . . 
They sell the rations of the horses. . . . The * Com- 
missioners ' of the army have become the worst of 
monopolists." 

It was not only the administration that had fallen 
to pieces, but discipline, thoroughly undermined, 
had almost ceased to exist. Citizen David, who 
accompanied General Pichegru in the 1794 cam- 
paign, tells the following story : — * 

" A soldier, serving in the brigade commanded by 
Colonel Valetau, was placed in arrest for having left 
his garrison, without permission, to make some 
political speeches. The soldier wrote to General 
Souham, who commanded the district, demanding 
that Valetau should be dismissed as an aristocrat, and 
suggested himself as the colonel's successor. General 

* " Pichegru Campaign," by Citizen David, published in 1796. 



8 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24, 

Souham answered the soldier to the effect that ' the 
complaint savoured rather of passion and revenge 
than of true patriotism.' The soldier then addressed 
the Administrators at Lille, but getting no satisfac- 
tion, denounced Colonel Valetau to the * Committee 
of Public Safety ' in Paris, and an order was promptly 
sent to dismiss the colonel from his command " ! ! 

Now, under such circumstances, even the best 
officers could not have effected much with trained 
troops, and about 50 per centum of the armies guard- 
ing the frontiers of France, numbering in all 780,000 
of all ranks, had, in 1794, only a few months* service, 
312,000 having been conscripted early in 1793. 
Moreover, the officers who had replaced the Royal- 
ists were drawn from the same class as filled the 
ranks, viz. peasants, and although they were brave, 
they had not yet acquired the confidence of those 
they attempted to lead. With such materials it is 
not surprising that the privates behaved badly, and 
that the generals hesitated to attack, feeling that a 
defeat would probably be followed by denunciations, 
which almost invariably led to the scaffold. 

After the campaign of 1793 the Austrian army 
remained entrenched in the country lying between 
the rivers Scheldt and Sambre, with advanced posts 
at Orchies, Marchiennes, and Le Cateau, behind 
which the mass of the troops reposed in security. 

The English troops went into winter quarters on 
the 15th September, 1793, in the neighbourhood of 
Ghent, near which place they remained till the 24th 
February, 1794. It was, no doubt, difficult, one hundred 
years ago, to move troops during the winter months, 
on account of the badness of the roads ; but it is 



I794-] VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES. 9 

interesting for those who remember how the Prussian 
armies remained actively employed throughout the 
winter of 1870-71, to notice that His Royal Highness 
the Duke of York, who was in command of the 
English troops in Flanders, spent the greater part of 
the winter in England, the troops during his absence 
being commanded by Lieutenant-general Sir William 
Erskine. When the Duke of York returned from 
London, he established his headquarters at Courtray, 
where he and the Duke of Coburg, after a conference, 
decided to open the campaign by besieging Landrecies. 

The French had collected an army of about 3S,ooo 
men, called " the Division of the Centre," cantoned 
about Cambray. General Pichegru, who was in 
command, determined to forestall the movements 
of the Allies by attacking their posts on the Selle 
river. 

I do not propose to enter into any details of the 
campaign outside those belonging to the action, which 
I shall now endeavour to describe.* 

From the 22nd April the advanced posts of the 
Allies were harassed by three columns of the French, 
which moved Eastward, from Cambray and Bouchain. 
The attacks on the 22nd April resulted in the 
Hessians being driven back on Denain, seven miles 
North of Villers-en-Cauchies. At the same time a 
French corps, which had crossed the Scheldt, fell 
upon the advanced posts at Avesnes-le-Sec and 
Villers-en-Cauchies, forcing them to retire. The 
French then took possession of Haspres, Saulzoir, 
and Montrecourt, on the river Selle, whence they 
pushed small parties over the river Ecaillon, which 
flows four miles Eastward of Saulzoir. 

 See map at end of chapter. 



lO ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24. 

General Clairfait, an artillery officer who com- 
manded the Austrian troops, hearing at Toumay of 
the French advance, marched rapidly on Denain 
to support the Hessians, while the Duke of York, 
learning that the Hessian outpost had been driven 
back across the Selle, ordered a reconnaissance of 
cavalry to be made under General Otto. 

There are considerable discrepancies in the authori- 
ties consulted for this narrative as to the general 
operations, but there is no substantial difference in 
their accounts, so far as the incidents of the cavalry 
action are concerned, except that the number of 
French troops alleged to have been engaged at 
Villers-en-Cauchies, is given, in all accounts emanating 
from the side of the Allies, as much greater than it 
is in others. This arises, I believe, from the troops 
near Haspres being included, although they were not 
engaged in the fight. 

The French had about 25,000 men on the line 
Cambray-Bouchain, when they advanced to compel a 
portion of the Allied armies — composed of Austrians, 
Dutch, and English — to raise the siege of Landrecies, 
a fortified town twenty miles East of Cambray. 
This section of the Allied armies was encamped to 
the Eastward of the river Selle, having outposts on 
the left, or Western bank. 

On the 23rd April a reconnaissance was made 
by two squadrons of Austrian Hussars (Leopold 
regiment), and two squadrons of the 15th Light 
Dragoons,* starting from St. Hilaire, down the left 
bank of, the river. The Austrian Hussars had 120, all 
ranks, in a squadron. The two squadrons of the 15th 

* In 1806 they were made Hussars and ordered to grow hair on the 
upper lip. 



1794.] VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES. II 

Light Dragoons, commanded by Major W. Aylett, 
numbered 7 officers and 180 all other ranks. When, 
on the 23rd April, it became known that the Re- 
publican troops were in force near Villers-en-Cauchies, 
reinforcements were demanded, and these were sent 
forward to support the reconnoitring detachment, 
which was intended to act on the 24th April as the 
advance-guard of a cavalry division. This consisted 
of the Royal Horse Guards (Blues), ist Dragoon 
Guards, Royal Dragoons, nth Light Dragoons, and 
two squadrons of the Zetchwitz Cuirassiers, but, as 
will be seen, the division arrived too late. 

Description of tlie Ground, — The country about 
Villers-en-Cauchies is an undulating plain, the 
ground falling gradually from about one mile West of 
the village towards the Selle river. On the Eastern 
side of it the slope becomes more rapid, and shallow 
valleys run up from the river, the slopes of which, 
however, would nowhere compel a cavalry regiment 
to slacken its pace even in a rapid advance. There 
are neither hedges nor fences of any description, 
the boundaries of the fields being marked by small 
stones ; and as the gentle undulations often obstruct 
the view at distances over half a mile, the slopes offer 
an ideal ground for cavalry, even in the present day 
of low- trajectory rifles. 

On the morning of the 24th April the following 
was the situation: The Hessian outposts had been 
driven over the Selle the previous day by the Repub- 
lican troops, who held the river-line from Houssy on 
their right to Haspres on their left. Three columns 
were advancing in an Easterly direction : one from 
Hardoing on Novelle, a second from Jouz by Avesnes- 
le-Sec on Haspres, and the third from Cambray on 
Saulzoir. 



12 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24, 

The Duke of York, who was in command of the 
section of the Allied armies, was anxious to drive the 
enemy back, not only to prevent interruption of 
the siege of Landrecies, but also because it was feared 
the foe might intercept the Emperor of Germany, 
who was then on his way from Brussels to join the 
Allied armies. 

The reconnoitring detachment acting as advanced 
guard of the cavalry division, commanded by Colonel 
Baron Sentheresky, and guided by Captain Mecsery 
of the Archduke Ferdinand's Hussars, who was 
thoroughly acquainted with the ground, moved off 
early in the morning, before connection with the main 
body of the cavalry division had been established. 
The four squadrons came, about 7 a.m., on the enemy 
in an extensive wood of low trees near Montrecourt* 
These troops, though in superior force,t retired from 
the wood towards the main body, at first in great 
haste, but formed up again in the open at 400 yards* 
distance ; then, covered by skirmishers, they retired, 
this time steadily, reforming in front of a large 
body of troops of all Arms, which was in position 
between Villers-en-Cauchies and Avesnes. There 
was now some hesitation, as the Allied squadrons 
saw that the main body of their division was not in 
sight ; and they realized the enormous odds with 
which they had to deal. The officers, however, 
pointed out to their men that they had advanced 
too far to be able to retreat with security, and that 
victory was essential for the safety of the Emperor. 
It was agreed an attack should be made. The 

* This village now joins Saulzoir. 

t In General Otto's report, estimated as 300 Dragoons and 400 or 
500 Hussars. 



I794-] VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES. 1 3 

Austrian and English squadron leaders having first 
sworn on crossed swords to ride homey which agree- 
ment the men ratified by their cheers, the order to 
advance was given. It was decided that the two 
squadrons of the 15th Light Dragoons should attack 
straight to the front, while the Imperial Hussars 
were to move somewhat to their right, and fall on 
the left flank of the enemy's cavalry. 

Major Aylett's squadrons advanced at the trot, 
breaking into a gallop when 150 yards from the 
hostile cavalry. It did not await the shock, but 
retired at speed when the Allied line was 60 yards 
distant, wheeling outwards to uncover a battery of 
artillery. The guns opened fire before their front 
was clear, and with more effect on the retiring troops 
than on the English squadrons. Behind the artillery 
stood an oblong-shaped square of infantry, formed of 
six battalions, with the front ranks kneeling. In the 
rear of the square were more horsemen, on which the 
retreating squadrons re-formed. The French square 
now fired one volley, and the Allies, being pounded 
by artillery from both flanks, hesitated. This hesi- 
tation was, however, but momentary, for presently, 
encouraged, and led on by their officers, the squadrons 
dashed into the square, Major Aylett being bayoneted 
through the body as he entered it, and three other 
officers having their horses wounded. 

Half the square now dispersed ; the other half fired 
another volley, and remained firm until the Light 
Dragoons turned on them, when the whole mass 
broke up. The French cavalry fled before the 
Hussars, abandoning the infantry, which was pursued 
for half a mile, the fugitives being cut down in all 
directions. It had been recently ordered by the 



14 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24, 

National Convention of France that no quarter was 
to be given to the English ; the Allied squadrons on 
this account, therefore, and also because their small 
numbers rendered it impossible to furnish an escort, 
took no prisoners, and throughout the day but few 
unwounded men were taken alive. The cavalry seized 
four cannon, three of which were sent to the rear, but 
for the fourth there was no means of transport, and it 
was eventually carried off by the French. 

While the Austrian squadrons were pursuing the 
fugitives from the broken square, the 15 th Light 
Dragoons, now commanded by Captain Pocklington, 
passed rapidly on towards the Bouchain road, dis- 
persing a long line of fifty guns, and ammunition 
waggons, which were retiring on the Villers-en- 
Cauchies-Bouchain road. Some of these guns would 
have been retained by the captors if the advanced 
guard had been properly supported. The pursuit was 
continued for six miles till the English squadrons were 
fired on from the guns of the fortress of Bouchain, 
and a relieving force coming out, the " Rally " was 
sounded, and the British squadrons having re-formed, 
retired at a steady trot. On either side of them were 
hostile forces, who, however, mistook them for their 
own troops. An officer approaching to give them 
orders was killed, and the retreat was continued. 
When they approached Villers-en-Cauchies, the 
enemy's infantry was observed to have taken up a 
position on the high road, where it was carried by 
a causeway across a valley.* The isth Light 
Dragoons now saw on the Southern side of the village 
the main body of the cavalry division, and having first 

* The ground has apparently been sloped away since the conflict, 
:as, although the place is easily recognized, the valley is now passable 
everywhere. 



1794.] VILLERS-EN-CAUCHIES. IS 

of all "changed front to the rear" to threaten the troops 
which were following them up from Bouchain, they 
then, again reversing their front, galloped through the 
infantry under a fire of cannon and muskets, which, 
although heavy, occasioned them but little loss. 

The French left 800 dead on the field between Saul- 
y.oir and Villers-en-Cauchies,and carried off in waggons 
from 300 to 400 wounded. General Pichegru, the 
commander of the Republican army, afterwards had 
several of his artillery drivers shot for their conduct 
when attacked by the 15 th Light Dragoons. 

If the cavalry division had not mistaken its road, 
and had followed the advanced guard at proper sup- 
porting distance, a large number of guns would have 
been taken, and with but little loss to the Allies. 

The ultimate effect of this charge was great. 
While it was being executed another French force 
was being repulsed at Troisville, fifteen miles further 
South, and in consequence of these defeats such a 
panic ensued that all the French columns retired, 
and with a loss of 4,000 men and 35 guns. The 
French cavalry covered the retirement, the infantry 
not being seen again. The English cavalry division 
bivouaced at Fontaine. 

The losses of the Austrians were : Killed, 4 Rank 
and File, 7 horses ; wounded, 6' Rank and File, 
4 horses; missing, 10 men, 11 horses. The 15th 
Light Dragoons* losses were: Killed, 18 non-com- 
missioned officers and privates, 19 horses; wounded, 
13 all ranks, and 18 horses. 

Colonel Sentheresky reported as follows : — " This 
remarkable * action of the two Light Dragoon 

 Alison writes: "The Britisb, cavalry, led by the 15th Hussars, 
drove headlong through their whole line by a most brilliant charge, 
and completed their rout." 



l6 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [April 24, 1794. 

squadrons, encouraged by their brave officers, who, 
despising the greatness of the danger, and the 
multitude of the enemy, gave to this astonishing 
affiair an essential decision." The Emperor had a 
gold medal struck for the officers, and bestowed on 
them also the Order of Maria Theresa, carrying 
with it the rank of Baron of the Empire. 

Comments. — This victory was gained by the de- 
termined resolution of a small body of horsemen, 
and is a fine example of what may be effected by 
brave, well-mounted, and well-trained cavalry under 
favourable conditions, when the leaders are not only 
resolute but are also skilful. The French infantry 
were armed with an indifferent musket, which could 
only be reloaded slowly. The men were apparently 
raw levies, and must have been bad shots, as the 
Allied loss was small, although the fighting was 
mainly hand to hand. The formation of the infantry 
in one large body was very unfavourable for defence. 

The French cavalry distinguished itself about the 
same time in another part of the scene of action, and 
we must therefore ascribe its want of resolution, when 
attacked by the 15 th Light Dragoons, to the faulty 
leading of the officers. Its success in the other 
instance was the more creditable because the horses 
were poor, undersized, and of a coarse breed. But in 
the action I have described, the first position taken 
up, immediately in front of the artillery and infantry, 
indicates a want of knowledge on the commander's 
part ; and no cavalry can be expected to fight if it 
is retired at speed with an enemy at its heels. 



No. II. 



MARENGO, 



i/[th June^ 1800. 



No. II. 

MARENGO, 14/A June, 1800. 

Five squadrons, by charging: opportunely, capture fiOOO 
prisoners and the general in cominiand, and convert 
an imi)ending def^dat into a glorious victory. 

Bonaparte's march across the Alps and the results 
of the subsequent battle of Marengo startled Europe, 
and raised him at one bound to a level with the 
greatest captains of all time, for although writers 
have since criticized his strategy unfavourably, yet 
for the moment victory obliterated all errors.* 

This narrative, intended to show the effect pro- 
duced by a few squadrons in determining the result 
of a long day's fighting, will not permit of more than 
a brief reference to the other operations of one of 
the most interesting campaigns a soldier can read. 

Those who wish to study the combinations, various 
engagements, and incidents which followed each other 
with the rapidity of the change of scenes in a panto- 
mime, cannot do better than read "Adams's Great 
Campaigns," edited by Colonel Cooper King. Those 
interested mainly in strategy should peruse "Hamley's 
Operations of War." Those who wish to enjoy a 

 " Un general victorieux n'a point fait dcs fautes aux yeux du 
public" (Voltaire, Hist, Ght.). 



20 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 

picturesque description should read Alison's great 
work (vol. v.): while those who enjoy sketches of 
personal character are invited to take up any of the 
numerous memoirs quoted by Alison, or, better still, 
the biography of Kellerman, in General Thoumars* 
" Grands Cavaliers du Premier Empire," published in 
1890. 

The careers of Napoleon and his principal generals 
are well known, not only to soldiers, but probably to 
most of those who are likely to read this story ; 
so that, with the exception of Kellerman, I make no 
reference to them beyond contrasting their ages with 
those of their opponents, and this I do because there 
can be no doubt that bodily vigour and ability to 
support fatigue were important factors in the long- 
drawn-out battle, which lasted over fourteen hours. 

For the sake of my civilian readers, and those 
soldiers who are not conversant with the military 
events at the end of the last century, it is desirable 
that I should describe, briefly, the condition of the 
opposing armies, and the strategical positions they 
occupied prior to the opening of the campaign. 

During the previous year, although the fortune of 
war had been decidedly in favour of the Allies, yet 
Mass^na, after his victory at Zurich, having turned 
on Suwarrow, caused both him and Korsakow to retire 
from Switzerland. Nevertheless, the only condition 
decidedly in favour of the French at the opening of 
the campaign was the escape of Napoleon from the 
isolated army in Egypt, where, however, the most 
efficient French battalions were still locked up. In 
France there was much discontent, and in La Vendue 
organized resistance to the authority of the Republic 
had not as yet been abandoned. 



iSoo.] MARENGO. 2 1 

The French army, depleted by seven years of war, 
discouraged by many defeats, irregularly paid, in- 
sufficiently fed, and practically without uniform, was 
in a state bordering on mutiny, and the sufferings 
of the troops had induced many of them to desert. 
Mass^na was now sent to command the army in 
Italy, but with no other means than money of re- 
establishing its efficiency. This, however, enabled 
him to pay his troops, and by his strength of cha- 
racter he soon restored order and discipline amongst 
the suffering soldiery. The task assigned to him 
was, nevertheless, one of extreme difficulty. He had 
about 30,000 men, and with these was required to 
hold a front extending for nearly one hundred miles, 
from Genoa on the East, to Nice on the West He 
realized that any strong effort made by his adversary 
must infallibly force this attenuated line, and while 
he was faced by a numerous army, the English fleet 
closely watched the coast behind him. Early in the 
year 1800 A.D. a British expedition was being pre- 
pared in the Balearic Isles, which it was proposed 
should land to the Westward of Nice, in Provence, 
and thus take the French position on the Var river 
in rear. 

Let us turn for a moment now to the Austrians. 
Towards the close of 1799 General Baron Melas had 
obtained some successes on the extreme left, or 
Western flank, and knowing the weakness of the 
French opposing troops, he seized the passes of the 
Apennines with advanced posts, and thus was en- 
abled to canton his army in the fertile districts it 
occupied throughout the winter. That army, trained 
to a system of shock tactics which had been initiated 
by Suwarrow, was eagerly awaiting orders to move 



22 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 

forward, and confidently anticipated that the French 
would be overwhelmed. 

Napoleon's first idea of the campaign had been 
to act offensively against the Austrians in Southern 
Germany, with Moreau*s command, and to reinforce 
him with the army then being collected at Dijon. 
The First Consul had obtained a decree for 100,000 
conscripts, who, though not of any immediate value 
for field service, set free a number of old soldiers at 
the dep6ts, and these were assembled, being termed 
the Army of Reserve. It was only when Moreau 
objected to Napoleon's strategical plans that the 
First Consul determined to throw the Army of 
Reserve across the Alps, and lead it himself into the 
plains of Northern Italy, striking at the back of 
the Austrian army, as he had originally intended 
that Moreau should act in rear of General Kray in 
Suabia. The First Consul now arranged that Moreau 
should drive General Kray back towards Ulm, and 
then detach a portion of his force to Italy in aid of 
the Army of Reserve. 

Bonaparte, by the 12th of May, had collected, near 
Geneva, 35,000 infantry, and 5000 cavalry, which he 
divided into four Corps, and on the l6th May the 
advanced guard, commanded by Lannes, commenced 
the ascent of the Great St. Bernard, over which the 
army passed, by dint of extraordinary exertions, in 
four days, the advanced guard reaching Ivrea about 
the 19th. 

To return to the subject of the ages of the generals 
employed, Victor, the oldest of the French generals, • 
was but thirty-four, and the average age of Napoleon, 
Lannes, Desaix and Kellerman, was thirty-two years. 
Kellerman, born August, 1770, was indeed not quite 



i8oo.] MARENGO. 23 

thirty when he, at Marengo — to quote from ** Lannes' 
Life" — "inspired by a happy and sudden resolve, 
threw himself on the Austrian column as it was in 
the act of delivering a charge." Entering as a sub- 
lieutenant in a Hussar regiment on the ist May, 
1 79 1, he became a battalion commander in April, 
1793. His father, the conqueror of Valmy, had just 
been acquitted of the charges brought against him 
by the "Convention," but the son was arrested in 
1794 for expressing decided opinions on the manner 
in which his father had been treated. Young Keller- 
man escaped death by the guillotine, but only through 
the friendly offices of the Mayor of Metz, who advised 
him after his release to leave the district. To conceal 
himself from further persecution he enlisted in the 
ranks of the ist Hussar regiment, which he quitted 
the following year to become aide-de-camp to his 
father, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. 

In March, 1797, he crossed the Piave river with 
one squadron, and on reaching the far bank, charged 
and overthrew a regiment. Four days later, at 
Tagliamento, when acting as a cavalry Staff officer, 
putting himself at the head of two cavalry regiments, 
he defeated several squadrons, and took five guns. 
During this action he received several sword-cuts on 
the head. His conduct procured for him the rank 
of brigadier-general, and this within six years of his 
first commission. At the end of 1798, when his com- 
mand, consisting of an advanced guard of 3 squadrons, 
2 guns and 2 battalions infantry, was attacked sud- 
denly by 8000 Neapolitans near Nepi, 25 miles North 
of Rome, he utterly defeated them, killing 500, cap- 
turing 2000 prisoners, 15 guns, and all the enemy's 
baggage. Soon afterwards, at Toscanella, near Civita 



24 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 74, 

Vecchia, he fell on the rear-guard of a division of 
7000 men, compelled the commander, a French 
refugee, to capitulate, and only allowed him to em- 
bark on condition of his giving up all his cannon. 

Kellerman possessed in a remarkable degree the 
three main characteristics of a perfect cavalry 
leader : — 

(a) His courage was indomitable ; 
(d) He had that quickness of perception which 
enabled him to seize the exact moment for 
throwing his command on the enemy ; 
(c) He was able to inspire his troops, not only with 
his own determination, but with confidence in 
his leading. 
This last characteristic is often wanting in even the 
most daring men. 

In March, 1800, he was employed at the Base, in 
equipping, mounting, and training regiments formed 
on the dep6t squadrons of the Corps serving in 
Egypt ; and eventually he took command of a weak 
brigade of Heavy cavalry composed of the 2nd, 6th, 
and 20th regiments, with which he immortalized his 
name at Marengo. He was a small, slightly-built 
man, delicate in appearance, with an intelligent but 
not prepossessing face. Neither wounds nor reverses 
ever cooled his courage. 

Haddick, the youngest of the Austrian generals> 
was only forty years of age ; but being mortally 
wounded in the first assault on the Fontanone brook, 
near Alessandria, was unable to help his older com- 
rades in the final struggle at the close of the day. 
Zach was fifty-four, O'Reilly sixty, Ott sixty-two, 
and Kaim and Melas were both seventy years of age. 



i8oo.] MARENGO. 2$ 

The last-named officer had served in the Seven 
Years' War (1756-63). Although enfeebled by age, 
his courage was as staunch as ever, for in the battle 
of Novi, 14th August, 1799, he is mentioned as 
personally leading on troops up to the cannon's 
mouth like a battalion commander. But, as will be 
seen in the course of the narrative, his physical 
strength was not equal to the continuous exertions 
which his position demanded. 

In the month of April, 1800, Melas, having left 
General Ott with 25,000 men to invest Genoa, which 
Mass^na was defending with 12,000 men, turned on 
Suchet, who was holding a strong position on the Var 
river. It was not until the 19th May that the Austrian 
commander, at Nice, received reliable intelligence 
of the projected crossing of the Alps, when, leaving 
Elsnitz with 18,000 men before Suchet, he hurried off 
to Turin, where he arrived on the 27th May, the 
same day that Napoleon concentrated his troops at 
Ivrea. Melas did not, even then, know that Moncey's 
force was crossing the St. Gothard, and felt confident 
that Napoleon's immediate object must be the relief 
of Genoa. On the 31st May, when about to move 
Northwards with the intention of crossing the Po at 
Vercelli to fall on the rear of the French, the Austrian 
Commander-in-Chief learnt that his right flanking 
force under Wukassowich was falling back before 
Moncey, and at once sent orders for a concentration 
about Alessandria. Before Elsnitz received these in- 
structions he had been heavily beaten, and driven 
back by Suchet, and eventually reached Alessandria 
with a loss of 10,000 out of his 18,000 veteran troops. 
Ott received his orders * to proceed to Alessandria 

* Staff officers should note the serious omission in these orders. 



26 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 1800. 

(subsequently modified for Piacenza) on the ist June, 
when he was negotiating with Mass^na for the sur- 
render of Genoa, which was evacuated on the 4th. 
Massena did not surrender the fortress until he had 
lost two-thirds of his garrison, and a great part of 
the population had been literally starved to death. 

In Genoa there were no private bakeries or 
butcheries, the establishments being worked by 
Government, and the destitution and misery while 
the siege lasted was terrible ; bread and meat were 
only issued occasionally, and then in minute quan- 
tities. Such was the want of food that not a dog or 
cat remained alive, and rats fetched high prices in 
the market, while the bread, of which only a reduced 
ration was issued to the soldiers, was made mainly 
of unpalatable ingredients, and contained but very 
little flour. The pangs of hunger would have, on 
several occasions, caused the inhabitants to rise in 
revolt in order to surrender to the enemy, but that 
they were dominated by the artillery placed in battery 
in the thoroughfares by the orders of the stern 
general, Mass6na. 

While Elsnitz was moving on Alessandria, and Ott 
towards Piacenza, Napoleon was at Milan organizing 
a supply system for his army, and was placing his 
troops in positions to intercept Melas's retreat. It 
was uncertain by which bank of the Po he would 
retire, and Lannes, Victor, and Murat moved on 
Piacenza to block the Stradella defile, while two 
forces watched the higher Po, and another at Pavia 
prepared to defend the line of the Ticino. The 
converging movement of the opposing armies South 
of the Po soon brought them into collision, and on 
the 9th of June Ott, beaten at the battle of Montebello 




CAMPAIGN OF 1800-ITALV. 



28 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 

by Lannes and Victor, retired, with a loss of 4000 
men, to the left bank of the Scrivia river. 

Napoleon did not hear of the surrender of Genoa 
till the 8th June, and even then was unaware of 
the terms which Massena had obtained. The First 
Consul waited three days in position at Stradella, 
and then, apprehensive that Melas might evade him, 
advanced on the afternoon of the 12th June towards 
the Scrivia. Fording that river on the 13th, he 
entered the level plain since known as "Marengo,"* 
which, extending about fifteen miles by twelve, is 
bounded on the North by the Po, on the West by the 
Bormida and the Tanaro rivers, and on the East and 
South by a circular chain of hills, which are lower 
features of the Apennine mountains. Marengo, a 
small village at the Western extremity of the plain, 
stands two miles to the East of the Bormida, on the 
Tortona road. The Bormida flows in a serpentine 
course about two miles to the East of Alessandria. 
It makes two bends towards the village of Marengo, 
which is built on the deep and scarped Fontanone 
brook, and commands the bridge over it. In the 
plain there are slight undulations. It is highly 
cultivated, like a garden ; there are no fences, but 
numberless mulberry trees planted in parallel rows, 
and the festoons of vines, trained on high poles like 
the hops in Kent and Surrey, by their foliage con- 
cealed even mounted troops. 

When Victor entered the plain, as nothing was seen 
of the enemy, he advanced during the afternoon of 
the 13th towards Alessandria. At Marengo he came 
upon a division of O'Reilly's corps, but carried the 
village at 5 p.m., the Austrians having received orders 

 Vide map at end of chapter. 



i8oa] MARENGO. 29 

not to make an obstinate defence. A violent rain- 
storm interrupted the combat for some time, and then 
Victor followed up the retreating Austrians till he 
was stopped near the hamlet of Pedrabuona by the 
fire of artillery posted on the left bank of the 
Bormida. 

This easy occupation of Marengo increased the 
First Consul's suspicion that the main Austrian army 
could not be in his front, and fearing that Melas 
might be retreating to the Southward towards Genoa, 
he himself turned back to the Eastward. The Scrivia, 
wide, with gravel bottom, carries but little water in 
the summer, but after heavy rain or sudden thaw of 
snow on the mountains, is frequently unfordable. 
Just then, it being in flood, Napoleon was obliged 
to remain on its left bank for the night, during the 
course of which he received information from Desaix, 
who had been detached towards Novi, which reassured 
him as to the movements of the enemy.* 

At sunset on the evening of the 13th June, 30,000 
Frenchmen, or just half of the First Consul's troops, 
then in Italy, were scattered between Susa, Ivrea, 
Arona, Pavia, Milan, Brescia, and Cremona, at dis- 
tances varying from fifty to a hundred miles from the 
battlefield. Victor was at Marengo, Lannes a short 
distance in his right rear ; Murat on the Scrivia, 
Rivaud's cavalry brigade at Sale, and Desaix near 
Rivalta ; Mass^na, with the remnants of the troops 
freed by his capitulation, was near Savona, and 
Suchet was approaching Acqui. During the night 
Napoleon sent orders from Garofolo, to recall Desaix 
from Rivalta, and to bring up Murat and Monnier 

* Squadron officers should notice how this shows the importance of 
reconnoitrers reporting even negative information. 



30 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14. 

from the lower Scrivia. No orders were sent to 
Rivaud. Meanwhile Victor's soldiers, throughout the 
still summer night, heard the unmistakable noise of a 
large force " standing to arms *' in a confined space. 

The Austrian general had 25,000 men absent in 
detachments, but had collected 31,000 men and 100 
guns, to attack Victor and Lannes, who with 18,000 
men and 40 guns were bivouaced on the plain. Melas's 
plan was to cross the Bormida at daybreak, and after 
detaching Ott with 8000 men to Castel-ceriolo, to 
move himself with 20,000 men on the Marengo-San 
Giulano road. O'Reilly, who with 3600 men had 
bivouaced overnight on the right bank of the Bormida, 
was to move up it as far as La Stortigliona, and then 
endeavour to turn the French left. 

Next morning O'Reilly, attacking at 6 a.m., drove 
back the French advanced guard without difficulty, 
but his strict adherence to the original orders to move 
up stream, and the absence of supports, which were 
delayed in crossing the Bormida, saved the French 
from disaster thus early in the day. About eight 
o'clock, however, a serious attack was made on 
Marengo, which Victor had foreseen, and reported 
as early as 6 a.m. 

At 8 a.m. Melas received information that an 
Austrian squadron had been driven out of Acqui, and,, 
unnecessarily nervous — seeing that Acqui is twenty 
miles from Alessandria — of an attack in his rear, 
detached 17 squadrons numbering 2300 men in that 
direction. 

Napoleon now reaped the advantage of Melas's 
mistake in having abandoned Marengo the previous 
evening. It took the Austrian General, Haddick, two 
hours to deploy the leading division, and another 



i8oo.] MARENGO. 3 1 

hour passed ere Kaim*s division could be brought up 
into second h'ne. Although the Austrians had an over- 
whelming force of artillery, yet the bends of the river 
were greatly to the advantage of the French artillery,, 
enabling it to enfilade its opponents. Haddick's 
division lost heavily in attempting to cross the Fonta- 
none brook, and he was mortally wounded in leading 
the attack ; his men then retreated, but were soon 
replaced by Kaim's division, which, after suffering 
severely, also retired. Shortly before its retreat 
General Pilatti had sent some squadrons (which were 
obliged to move in single file) across the brook above 
Marengo. At twelve o'clock they were about to 
attack the left flank of the French infantry lining the 
brook, when Kellerman approached with his brigade^ 
consisting of — 

2nd Cavalry Regiment strength, 182 sabres 

6th „ „ . „ 340 „ 

20th „ „ . „ 280 „ 

Total * . 802 ,.* 

He had bivouaced near Marengo overnight, and at 
9 a.m. had taken up his position South of the village 
near the 8th Dragoons (328 sabres), which regiment 
acted under his orders during the day. Kellerman, 
divining Pilatti's intention, sent the Dragoons to attack 
the Austrian squadrons before, they had completed 
their formation, and advanced his own brigade in 
support. The 8th Dragoons overthrew the leading 
squadrons of the enemy, but, being charged by the 
Supports, were overwhelmed. Kellerman, ordering 

* My numbers differ from those quoted in "Adams" and "Alison," 
but are taken from the despatches written the day after the battle by 
Kellerman, and Victor. 



32 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 

the Dragoons to rally behind him, then advanced, 
and breaking into the charge when within fifty yards 
of the Austrian line, drove it back to the brook. 
The French took 100 horses and then retired to 
their original position, where, however, they lost many 
men from the fire of the Austrian artillery. 

Ott, whose march towards Castel-ceriolo had been 
delayed until the road was clear of Kaim*s division, 
was on arriving there opposed only by a weak force 
of cavalry. If he could have marched earlier, Victor 
and Lannes must have been overwhelmed. For two 
hours Victor had repulsed all attacks on him, and 
when Lannes came up on the right rear, the battle was 
continued under more even conditions. The opposing 
forces were drawn up within point-blank range, and 
many fell, the soldiers on both sides closing resolutely 
to their centre to fill up the gaps. After many fruit- 
less attacks the Austrians eventually carried the 
Fontanone stream, and having thrown a trestle bridge 
across it, the Supports, aided by batteries concentrat- 
ing their fire on the village, drove Victor back in great 
disorder on the San Giulano road. Simultaneously 
O'Reilly, having seized La Stortigliona, advanced, 
by La BoUa, on the Tortona road. As the Due de 
Rovigo (Savary) writes : *' Had the Austrian cavalry 
now charged Victor in his retreat, he must have been 
crushed." 

Kellerman, however, never gave them an oppor- 
tunity. He knew that Victor's men had no more 
ammunition, and he covered their retreat, retiring 
his squadrons by alternate troops, and menacing, 
with determination, the enemy from time to time, 
prevented them from taking a single prisoner. 

Lannes, whose left was completely uncovered by 



I Sod,] MARENGO. 33 

Victor's retreat, now fell back, moving at first steadily 
in echelons of squares. The Austrians, preceded by 
fifteen guns, followed in pursuit, halting from time to 
time to fire, and at last the French could no longer 
stand up under their heavy losses, and the squares 
breaking, the plain was covered with fugitives shout- 
ing, " Every man for himself ! " They rallied, however, 
at San Giulano in rear of some squares which still 
held together, encouraged by the sight of Napoleon, 
who had arrived with the Consular Guard. This latter 
Corps was detached to the North-westward to oppose 
Ott, who was now advancing from Castel-ceriolo. 
The Infantry of the Consular Guard, about 900 
strong, forced its way forward, through the crowd 
of fugitives and the enemy, to within half a mile of 
Castel-ceriolo, but at last, shaken by the Austrian 
artillery and charged in front by infantry and in 
flank and rear by cavalry, it gave way and fled in 
disorder to Li Poggi. At this time, Monnier, moving 
up to the front, detached St Cyr's brigade North- 
wards, which seized Castel-ceriolo and, although cut 
off from the rest of the French army, held it for the 
rest of the day. During the retreat from the Northern 
flank of the field, the 72nd regiment of Monnier's 
division when retiring in line was at one time com- 
pletely surrounded by a large force of cavalry, and 
was charged simultaneously in front and in rear, but 
the third rank facing about, while the two front ranks 
stood firm, the regiment beat off the cavalry, and 
retired without being broken. 

About 2 p.m. Melas, who had been twice slightly 
wounded, two horses having been killed under him, 
called Zach, his Chief of the Staff, and desired him to 
assume the command, and press the retreat of the 

D 



34 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 

French troops, saying, " I am quite worn out, for I 
have been in the saddle since midnight, and must 
go back to Alessandria, and rest" 

Some time elapsed before the Austrian battalions 
could be collected, and eventually Zach allowed them 
to move on without being properly reformed. Major- 
general Le Baron de Crossart, a French refugee 
Royalist who was serving with the Austrians, urged 
Zach to re-establish order ere he went forward, but 
he was told not to make himself a bore, and the 
column advanced with bands playing, and without 
any precautions, along the high-road, many soldiers 
quitting the ranks to despoil the dead, and officers 
leaving their companies to join in general congratula- 
tions. The advanced guard, Wallis's brigade, deployed 
into two lines after passing Cassina Grossa, the left 
flank being covered by Lichtenstein's cavalry. Nine 
battalions with twelve squadrons on the left flank 
followed in column of route at distances of half a 
mile. On the left rear there was a cavalry Corps 
of 2,000 sabres. Ott moved parallel to Zach's column, 
but two miles farther to the Northward. 

We will now turn to the French side of the battle- 
field. 

Desaix, who, early in the morning, on hearing 
the guns had halted in anticipation of his recall, 
shortly before four o'clock, preceding his division by 
half an hour, rode up to San Giulano, where he was 
met by Napoleon and informed by him of the events 
of the day. There is a striking difference in the 
relations of the First Consul with his brother generals 
in 1800, and their respectful subordination after he 
had become Emperor. Said he, " Desaix, what do 



i8oo.] MARENGO. 35 

you think ? " " Think ! " replied the young general: 
"Why, that the battle is completely lost, but it is 
only four o'clock, and there is time to win another^ 
To win, however, we must use artillery before we 
attack. To forego its use will cause for us another 
defeat." 

Desaix placed his infantry near San Giulano, where 
Marmont prepared a battery of eighteen guns (all 
that the French had left), ten being taken from the 
Reserve, and eight from Desaix' division. These un- 
limbered on the right of the Giulano-Alessandria 
road, and occupied half the frontage, the infantry 
being greatly reduced in effectives. Meanwhile 
Napoleon rode along the front of the troops, en- 
couraging them to make another effort. Desaix* 
division was formed in two lines West of San Giulano^ 
concealed from the advancing Austrians by a slight 
rise in the ground. The 9th Light Infantry regi-^ 
ment had one battalion in line (three deep), with a 
battalion on either flank in quarter-column. It held 
the edge of a vineyard, some of Marmont's guns being 
in the intervalsv To the North of Desaix stood 
Lannes, and to Lannes' right front was the Consular 
Guard, and Monnier's division. The remnants of 
Victor's division took post in the left rear of Desaix, 
while Kellerman formed up 200 yards to the right 
rear of Desaix' right brigade. Kellerman's own 
brigade, the 2nd, 6th, and 20th regiments, having 
been under fire many hours, at this time numbered 
only 1 56 sabres, but he had also under his orders two 
squadrons of the 8th Dragoons, and a troop (quarter 
of a squadron) of the ist Dragoons, about 250 
sabres strong — making a total of 400 sabres. They 
had charged many times during the day, generally 



36 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. Qunk 14, 

when covering the retreat, but invariably with success. 
The French were in this position when, at five p.m., 
the leading Austrian brigade, without scouts and 
with bands playing, approached, all unconscious of 
danger till Marmont's guns opened on them with 
canister-shot. Wallis's men, startled by this unex- 
pected resistance and fearing an ambuscade, fell back, 
but the next brigade (Latterman's Grenadiers), en- 
couraged by General Zach, stood firm, and a heavy 
fire was kept up for twenty minutes, when Desaix 
ordered the 9th Light Infantry to advance. As they 
moved forward Desaix fell dead, struck in the back 
by an accidental shot from one of his own men, the 
bullet passing through the heart. He had recently 
joined from Egypt, having landed at Toulon on the 
4th May, after a voyage of two months from 
Alexandria, He had only been in command two 
days, and both aides-de-camps being away at the 
moment, his fall was unnoticed till a sergeant asked 
an officer if he might appropriate the dead man's 
coat. 

The advance of the infantry left some of the guns 
behind, and Marmont in trying to get two of them 
and a howitzer forward near the high road, was just 
limbering up, when he saw through the clouds of 
smoke and dust a French battalion breaking up, 
followed by a heavy column of the enemy, into 
which he poured four rounds of canister, just as 
Kellerman passed by the right front of the guns. 
He also had noticed the French battalion waver, and 
had advanced to avert the impending disaster. At 
the very minute that the Austrians, having fired a last 
volley, broke into the double to attack the French 
infantry, Kellerman, who was advancing in column 



l8co.] MARENGO. 37 

of troops, gave the word, " Left wheel into line — 
Charge." At the moment of impact the 2nd and 
20th regiments were in front, and though the forma- 
tion into line was necessarily effected somewhat in 
succession, yet, the dragoons falling with vigour on 
the flank of the Austrians, whose muskets were 
empty, the effect of their charge was such that 2000 
men with General Zach threw down their arms and 
surrendered as prisoners, with six stand of Colours 
and four guns. 

Kellerman, rallying 200 sabres, now led them 
against Lichtenstein's cavalry, which was advancing 
on Zach's left flank, but it fled, and this example 
was later followed by Pilatti's command, which had 
suffered heavy losses earlier in the day. Meanwhile 
Lannes' and Victor's men, encouraged by Kellerman's 
success, immediately advanced, and the Austrian 
cavalry, fleeing from Kellerman, rode over their own 
battalions, and finally the whole panic-stricken mass 
fled towards Marengo. Kellerman then 'collected 
360 mounted Consular Guards, and with them and 
200 men, the remnants of his brigade and the 
Dragoons, made another charge on the enemy's 
cavalry and dispersed it 

At Marengo, Weidenfeld and O'Reilly strove 
devotedly to give the fugitives time to escape by 
defending the Fontanone brook. The village was 
carried, however, by Lannes and Boudet at dusk, 
and the Austrians, retiring on Pedrabuona, where 
they were joined by Ott's division, were rallied by 
Melas, the general standing in the fighting line. 

The losses sustained by the Austrians were 7000 
killed and wounded, 300 officers (7 being generals), 
and 3000 men. prisoners. The French losses in killed 



38 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [JUNK 14, 

and woundied were equally great The 20th Cavalry 
regiment, which with the 6th headed the charge on 
the Austrian Grenadiers, lost seven out of eleven 
officers, but it took two out of the six Colours which 
were captured, and all four g^ins. 

Next day Melas agreed to evacuate all the country 
West of the Chiese river, it being arranged that the 
valley of the Mincio should be considered as neutral 
ground. 

' Continents. — The slow advance of the Austrians 
after they had crushed Victor's and Lannes' divisions 
was possibly due to their having undergone much 
exertion on the previous days. I have been unable 
to trace whjit became of the 1900 sabres under 
General Nobili, but it is remarkable that when Ott 
was retreating after. Zach's discomfiture, he was not 
informed by the cavalry that Castel-ceriolo was still 
held by the French. It seems probable that this 
negligence and the failure to crush Kellerman when 
he was imposing his will, by sheer audacity, on 2000 
brave men, was due to want of unity of conimand. 

Apart from the decisive charge, the French cavalry, 
throughout the long day's fighting, devoted them- 
selves nobly to extricating their retreating infantry 
from the pursuing foe, and Champeaux, who com- 
inanded the Dragopn brigade covering Victor's right, 
was killed while leading it in a charge. Napoleon 
appears to have forgotten Rivaud's brigade of cava,lry, 
whii:h remained all the morning at Sale, some miles 
off, without receiving orders. While no writers question 
the striking effect of Kellerman's charge, some, and 
notably the Due de Rovigo (Savary), ascribe to 
Napoleon the foresight of haying ordered it There 



i8oa] MARENGO. 39 

can be, however, no doubt that this is an error, for a 
study of the writings of those generals who were eye- 
witnesses of the event, prove it to be so — and, indeed. 
Napoleon himself, in his memoirs dictated to General 
Gourgaud at St. Helena, leaves no doubt on the 
subject. 

La Duchesse d'Abrantes (Junot) gives a graphic 
account of the numerous occasions on which her guests 
— Bessi^res, Lannes, Eugene, Duroc, and Berthier — 
remained for hours at the dinner-table discussing 
the battle, using the candelabra, wine bottles and 
remnants of the dessert to mark the different 
positions, and she adds that all these generals, who 
were at that time devoted to Napoleon, ascribed the 
victory to Kellerman. General Dupont, three days 
after the battle, in a letter to Carnot, the War 
minister at Paris, wrote : " Kellerman*s brilliant 
success gave the impulse to the whole army for a 
general advance." 

I dwell on this point 1[>ecause it is important that 
cavalry officers should study when to strike in 
without asking for permission, or awaiting orders. 
The numbers in English cavalry regiments are small, 
but great results have often been achieved by small 
forces ; and we have one incalculable advantage which 
no other nation possesses, i,e, that our officers are able 
to hunt, and than which, combined with study, there 
is, during peace, no better practice for acquiring 
the gift which Kellerman naturally possessed. Liet 
us not forget that in the employment of cavalry on 
a battle-field the characteristics and skill of the leadei; 
are more important than either numbers or training, 
but the necessary aptitude is seldom found in man, 
and is always capable of improvement by study. 



40 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June 14, 1800. 

Kellerman was no doubt injudicious in his remarks 
after the action, but Napoleon might have forgiven 
even grosser impertinence on account of such great 
services. When the private secretary, Bourrienne, met 
his master at 7 p.m. on the battle-field, after expressing 
poignant regret for the loss of Desaix, Napoleon said, 
" That little Kellerman did very well ! He charged 
home, and in the nick of time ; we owe him a good 
turn." Nevertheless, two hours later, when Kellerman 
entered the room in which the generals were sitting at 
supper, which he had requisitioned from the neighbour- 
ing convent of Del Bosco, Napoleon said coldly, *' You 
made rather a good charge to-day," and then turning 
to Bessi^res, whose command had only charged a 
beaten foe at dusk, observed, "The Guard covered 
itself with glory." Kellerman, irritated by this in- 
justice, answered, " I am glad you are pleased. Consul, 
for this will put the crown on your head." Some 
few days later he repeated the substance of this ex- 
pression in a letter to his comrade Lasalle, then in 
Paris, and this being opened in the post-office and 
shown to Napoleon, increased the Consul's dislike of 
the best cavalry officer of his time. 

It is only just to add that when Kellerman's 
repeated misappropriations of money in Spain com- 
pelled Napoleon to recall him and place him on half- 
pay in 181 1, and he, having obtained an interview, 
tried to justify his conduct, the Emperor, who knew 
all the facts, replied graciously : " General Kellerman, 
whenever your name is brought up before me, I can 
remember nothing but Marengo." 



tai 



*o^ 



No. III. 



SOMO-SIERRA, 

30M November, 1808. 



No. III. 
SOMO-SIERRA, loth November, 1808. 

A Light Cavalry regiment attacks directly in front an 
entrenched battery guarding . a defile, routs its de« 
fenders, and captures 16 guns. 

Fag a» beaulach ! — " Get oflf the road ! " Such would 
be a brief but apt description of this apparently 
hopelessly desperate, but in the result brilliantly 
successful charge. There was no tactical skill dis- 
played by the regimental officers, and no generalship 
on the part of the greatest soldier of the century, 
whose culpable impatience caused the death of 
many brave men. There is, however, one valuable 
lesson that soldiers may learn from it, Le. the necessity 
of maintaining adequate distances between squadrons 
when attempting such a task. 

The Emperor Napoleon having left Paris after the 
opening of the Legislative Session, and arriving at 
Bayonne on the 3rd November, 1808, immediately 
made his presence felt in the country. He reached 
Vittoria in the evening of the 8th November, where 
he was. met by the Civil and Military heads of the 
town ; but declining to occupy the house prepared 
for his reception, partly because he wished Joseph, 
the king, who had his headquarters in the town, 
should remain the principal personage in the 



44 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Nov. 30, 1808. 

Peninsula, he entered the first small inn that he saw, 
and after hearing verbal reports of the situations of 
the !f rench, Spanish, and English armies, as far as 
they were known, proceeded to study his plan of 
campaign, which he then dictated in the course of 
two hours. 

We are only immediately concerned, at first, with 
the movements of the 2nd Corps, which, under the 
Duke of Dalmatia (Soult), was ordered to attack 
the Count de Belvedere, who was in position near 
Aranda del Duero, barring the road to Burgos, and 
later with that of Victor, and the Imperial Guards. 
The battle of Gaimonal, fought on the morning of 
the loth November, ended in the instantaneous and 
complete defeat of the Spaniards, 2500 of whom 
were killed, while 20 guns and 900 men, with 6 
stands of Colours, were taken on the field. Count 
Belvedere's men dispersed in all directions, he him- 
self escaping to Lerma. All the ammunition and 
stores of the Spanish army in the North of Spain 
were captured. This battle, and that of Espinosa, 
fought on the same day by Marshal Victor, resulted, 
after a renewed action on the following day, in the 
retreat of the Spaniards under Count Romana. The 
subsequent operations of Marshal Soult subdued 
the whole of the North of Spain, and secured the 
coast-line from San Sebastian to the frontier of 
Asturias ; while the decisive victory of Lannes at 
Tudela, on the 23rd November, ended in the flight 
of the Spaniards, under Palafox, to Saragossa. 

Napoleon now detached three divisions of cavalry 
under Bessieres, with 24 guns, to turn the flank of the 
British force under Sir John Moore, and ascertain- 
ing that the English had not come forward beyond 




THE SOMO-SIERRA. 



46 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Nov. 30, 

Salamanca and Astorga, he changed the direction 
of his advance, and the 2nd Corps, which had hitherto 
been preceding, under the command of Soult, the 
march of his armies, now guarded his right flank ; 
Ney was ordered to move on Gaudalajara, to cover 
the left flank, while Napoleon himself prepared to 
move direct on Madrid. On the evening of the 
2 1st November reconnoitring patrols, sent towards the 
Somo-Sierra mountain, ascertained that there were 
6000 men at work entrenching the road which passes 
over the neck of the mountain, and that a small 
camp, formed at Sepulveda, blocked the road leading 
to Segovia. The Emperor left Aranda on the 28th 
with the Imperial Guard, ist Corps, and Reserve, 
sending a detachment to attack the camp at Sepulveda. 
This attack, however, failed, with a loss of sixty 
men ; but the Spaniards, panic-stricken, although 
they had been successful, quitting the post, retired 
in disorder, and on the 29th the French advanced 
guard reached the foot of the mountain. 

In the mean time General San Juan's force had 
been augmented to 10,000 men, and he had planted 
16 guns in the neck of the defile, to sweep the road, 
which was steep and difficult on the Northern side. 
The infantry were well placed on the right and left 
in tiers, one line above the other, and entrenchments 
had been thrown up in the parts which were more 
open, thereby strengthening the position. The quality 
of the Spanish troops, however, was less satisfactory 
than was the strength of the position. Napoleon 
imagined that he had in front of him merely armed 
bands of peasantry, augmented by the fugitives from 
Aranda; and no doubt some of these men were present, 
augmenting what was termed the Army Reserve, which 



iS68.] SOMO-SIERRA. 47 

had not been engaged. On the other hand, this Re- 
serve was badly armed, insufficiently fed, and with pay 
greatly ill arrears. Enthusiasm, indeed, was not want- 
ing, and the soldiers were proud of the recollection 
of their victory at Baylen, confidently believing that 
their position on the mountain was impregnable. 
Nevertheless, the men were without discipline, and 
under defeat passed rapidly from over-confidence 
to the wildest insubordination, for at Talavera, a 
month later, they murdered and mutilated their 
brave general, San Juan, whom they had shamefully 
abandoned on the 30th November in the action I am 
about to narrate. 

The regiment of heroic Poles, whose feat I am about 
to describe, had been raised by Napoleon at Warsaw, 
and was composed of picked men. The 3^^™* Che- 
vaux Legers was commanded by Count Krasinski 
as colonel commandant ; but he being sick, though 
present in the field of action, the actual command 
was exercised by Lieut-colonel Dautancourt. Both 
officers and men were capable of displaying extra- 
ordinary courage, but their leaders had neither theo- 
retical nor practical knowledge of war. 

On the 29th November, the regiment formed the 
advanced guard of the army, the 3rd squadron, under 
Captain Kozietulski, about 80 strong, being detailed 
as personal escort to the Emperor, who arrived at 
sundown at Boceguillas, a pretty little village about 
eleven miles from the pass through the Somo-Sierra 
range of mountains, up to which the ground rises 
steadily. When the escort squadron was relieved, 
by the Chasseurs and Grenadiers of the Guard, it 
went forward and drove in an outpost of Spaniards 
at Carajas, a small village at the entrance of the 



48 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Nov. 30, 

defile. Here the third squadron remained, the others 
moving back to Boceguillas. 

The Emperor passed a sleepless night Doubtless 
his brain was overwrought ; and, moreover, the best 
house in the village, which had been prepared for 
him, caught fire during the afternoon, and the smell 
of the burning embers, together with the intense 
cold, drove him out of his tent to the fires round 
the soldiers' bivouacs. It was, probably, this dis- 
comfort which caused him to get into the saddle too 
early, and move to the front before Victor's infantry 
advanced from the bivouac. 

Description of the Defile, — ^The direct way from 
Burgos over the mountain to Madrid, passes through 
a gorge which is narrowed in by precipitous rocks on 
either side. Shortly after the road leaves Carajas, 
and some way up the gorge, an enormous rock stands 
on the West side, at the foot of the last ascent to the 
summit of the pass, which, though short, was very 
steep. On, and below the summit of the pass were 
16 guns, covered by a field entrenchment of slight 
profile, and placed in batteries one above the other, 
while the roadway itself was closed by wooden pali- 
sades. The spurs running down from the neck on 
either side of the road were covered with crowds 
of Spaniards extended in skirmishing order, well 
concealed behind the rocks. Such was the position 
to be assaulted, and although very formidable, if 
Napoleon had been less impatient there was nothing 
to prevent its being carried under proper tactical 
arrangements. The Emperor, however, reached the 
height, on the East of which the village of Carajas 
stands, at 1 1 a.m., and while waiting for the troops, 
breakfasted. At that season of the year the mountain 



i8o8.] SOMO-SIERRA. 49 

is often covered with a thick mist till noon, when the 
rays of the sun are strong enough to disperse it, 
and up to 1 1 a.m. on the 30th November it was not 
possible to see a quarter of a mile to the front 

General Victor sent the 9th Light Infantry (which, 
as shown in Chapter II., seconded Kellerman's charge 
so successfully at Marengo, a.d. 1800) to the right, and 
the 24th regiment to the left, while on the roadway 
itself General Senarmont placed 6 guns, supported by 
the 8sth regiment, with the Imperial Guard in reserve. 
Owing to the fog, and the delays incidental to moving 
over rough ground, the advance was very slow at first, 
and the Emperor, becoming impatient, mounted his 
horse, and rode into the mouth of the defile. A 
shower of bullets stopped his progress when still a 
quarter of a mile from the main line of the Spanish 
defence, and he urged his infantry to hurry forward 
on both flanks. To enable them to produce any effect 
by their fire, it was necessary to give time for the move- 
ment to be developed, but this was exactly what the 
Emperor would not allow, and he presently ordered 
the escort squadron to charge up the road. Seven 
officers and 80 of all other ranks accordingly gal- 
loped up the roadway as fast as their horses could 
carry them. With heads bent low, and in as close 
formation as they could ride, they pressed on, fol- 
lowed, without any intervening distance, by the other 
squadrons. Before any horsemen of the leading 
squadron actually reached the battery all seven 
officers were struck down, and less than twenty, men 
remained in the saddle. Some of these, turning 
back, collided with the squadron behind, which in 
turn ran into the next squadron, and the whole 
becoming a surging mass, incapable of moving 

£ 



50 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Nov. 30, 

forward, gradually retired behind the big rock which 
marked the sharp turn in the roadway. It may be 
well to state that the accounts of this charge, and of 
its eventual success, are most conflicting, for while 
most of the Polish officers who took part in the 
charge insist that there was no check, and that 
they carried the position straight away, yet the 
balance of independent testimony, and the official 
gazette, support the version of the account which 
I have adopted. 

When the 3rd Polish Light cavalry galloped back 
down to the mouth of the ravine, the Chief of the Staff, 
Berthier, who thought highly of Montbrun's capacity, 
said to the Emperor, " There is Montbrun," and the 
Emperor, calling him, reprimanded him severely for 
his previous conduct, but ended the interview by 
putting the Poles under his command for the time. 
This distinguished officer was known and named in 
despatches in different campaigns as "the brave 
Montbrun," "the intrepid Montbrun," "the heroic 
Montbrun." Somewhat above the middle height, 
his face and figure were remarkably perfect in 
beauty, and he was endowed with unusual strength. 
Born in 1770, he entered the Army through 
the Ranks, and becoming a colonel at thirty years 
of age, was a brigadier at thirty-five, and from 
the year he entered as a private, in 1787, he had 
passed a service of eighteen years, fighting in every 
campaign in which the soldiers of France had been 
engaged in that period. Napoleon had a very high 
opinion of his courage and skill,* and had nominated 

• The Emperor showed himself less generous to Montbrun in resent- 
ing insubordination, than he was in condoning the peculations of 
Kellerman. "When the French army was advancing in Russia, the 



i8o8.] SOMO-SIERRA. SI 

him to command a cavalry brigade ordered to 
Spain. 

Montbrun, having obtained short leave of absence 
while his brigade was marching across France, went 
to Paris to see a young lady, whom he afterwards 
married. Mademoiselle du Morand was without a 
home, her father being in command of the troops 
in Corsica, and Montbrun arranged with his sister 
to go to Bayonne to meet the young lady there, 
and make a home for her. Montbrun's sister was 
delayed, and the general, unable to leave Made- 
moiselle du Morand alone, remained with her, and 
consequently missed being present at the battle near 
Burgos. The Emperor, who was furious with him, 
gave the command of his brigade to another officer, 
and proposed to try Montbrun by court-martial. He, 
in despair, was accompanying the Emperor's head- 
quarters, to await the decision of his fate, when this 
opportunity occurred of retrieving his position. He 
made the most of it. Having reformed the regiment, 
he enjoined on each squadron leader that he must 

Emperor gave special and succinct instructions to Montbrun to surprise 
Wilna, in order to secure the magazines of food. Napoleon had omitted 
to inform Murat, under whose orders Montbrun had been acting, and the 
prince, having demanded an explanation from Montbrun of his forward 
movement, was irritated by the Emperor's reticence, and refused to 
allow Montbrun to proceed. In the result the Russians destroyed the 
magazines before Murat arrived. When the Emperor came up, he 
abused Montbrun in most emphatic language for his failure, and 
absolutely declined to allow him to say a word in his defence. After 
Montbrun had in vain looked to Murat to explain the failure, irritated 
beyond control by the repeated abuse of the Emperor, he eventually 
drew his sword, and throwing it away over his head, galloped off to 
his camp, shoutin^r, "Go to the devil, all of you ! " TTie Emperor 
took no open notice of this insubordination, possibly because Murat, 
when alone with him, told the truth ; but when Montbrun was killed 
on the 7th September, 1812, the death of this distinguished officer, 
who was doubtless the second-best cavalry general of the day, was 
thus announced in the official gazette : " The general of division. Count 
Montbrun, was killed by a cannon shot." 



52 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Nov. 30, 1 808. 

keep a distance equal to the depth of a squadron 
from that in front of him, and having then explained 
clearly his orders, he placed himself at the head of the 
regiment, and rode forward into the defile, determined 
to re-establish his reputation or to die. As the 
leading squadron galloped on many fell, but without 
hesitation the survivors pressed forward and gained 
the batteries. Montbrun himself, jumping off on the 
roadway, ran to the barricade of stakes, which he 
began to pull down under a shower of bullets. The 
leading files followed his example, and then remount- 
ing, they charged the Spaniards, the greater number 
of whom were sabred, the ground on the Southern 
side being favourable for pursuit. When the survivors 
of the regiment formed up, Napoleon, having caused 
the trumpets to sound a flourish, addressed the Poles, 
saying, " Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and 
officers, you are indeed worthy to belong to my Old 
guard, for I regard you as the bravest of the brave." 

While this was taking place the infantry were 
gaining the heights on the flanks, and the Emperor 
and his force reached Buitrago in the afternoon, and 
entered Madrid on the 4th December. 



\J^ 



No. IV. 



GARCIA HERNANDEZ, 

^irdjuly, 1812. 



No. IV. 
GARCIA HERNANDEZ, 23^^ July, 1812. 

Five British squadrons (King's Qerman Ijeg^on) attack an 
infantry rear-g^ard of a French division, break two 
squares, and capture a general and 1000 prisoners. 

Before I attempt to describe this remarkable 
action, it may be well that I should state briefly the 
attendant circumstances. 

The Duke of Wellington, being unable to maintain 
the blockade of Cuidad Rodrigo, had retired behind 
the Coa river in November, 181 1 ; but the year 1812 
opened favourably for the British arms. Napoleon, in 
anticipation of the campaign in Russia, had recalled 
60,000 of the best troops from Spain, and not only 
were most of the senior generals quarrelling amongst 
themselves, but the duke's immediate opponent, 
Marshal Marmont, and King Joseph Bonaparte were 
on bad terms. 

Early in 1812, Wellington having assaulted success- 
fully, though with heavy loss, both Cuidad Rodrigo 
and Badajoz, and having surprised the Bridge-head of 
Almarez, later laid siege to the forts of Salamanca, 
and this operation causing Marmont to advance, 
brought on the decisive battle of the 22nd July. 
Had Marmont exercised a little more patience, his 
adversary must have retired back into Portugal, for 



56 



ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 



he was in such want of money as to be unable to 
feed his troops, and the Portuguese were deserting 
to avoid starvation. 



o 




CO 

(4 
H 

D 
O 



It is no part of my purpose, in this paper, to discuss 
the interesting operations which preceded the battle, 
or the action, which was itself crowded with dramatic 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. S7 

incidents ; but I may mention the steady conduct of 
the men who distinguished themselves in the retreat 
on the 24th June, as they did in the pursuit of the 
French on the 23rd July. 

After several preliminary manoeuvres, at 2 a.m. 
on the morning of the 24th June, the French army 
advanced in order of battle. Two days earlier, i.e. 
on the 22nd June, Brigadier-general von Bock's 
brigade had been sent across the Tormes river, to 
watch the ford at Huerta. The Light division was 
at the ford of Aldea Lengua, while Sir Thomas 
Graham was encamped with two divisions near the 
ford of Santa Marta. When, at daylight on the 24th, 
the fog lifted, General Bock, with six squadrons, was 
seen retiring in regularly formed lines before 12,000 
French troops of all Arms of the service, and in 
spite of the fire of many batteries, which tore up the 
ground around his squadrons, that officer continued 
his retreat, as Napier writes, " regardless alike of the 
cannonade and the light horsemen on his flanks." 
This retirement was continued, until, from a height, 
the French perceived Sir Thomas Graham's force 
drawn up in position, with eighteen guns on a line 
perpendicular to the Tormes, and still further back 
were seen columns near Santa Marta. Marmont then 
hastily withdrew, and recrossing the Tormes, returned 
to his former ground. The manner in which von 
Bock's squadrons were handled elicited the admiration 
of all the English troops. 

" One story is good till another is told." ^Esop's 
deduction from the lion's argument when replying to 
the boasts of the traveller, is applicable generally to 
the history of the heroes of my tale, and particularly 
to the narratives of this combat, for whereas Lord 



58 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

Wellington, who saw some of the charges delivered, 
wrote, " The whole body of the infantry, consisting 
of three battalions of the enemy's first divisions, 
were made prisoners," nevertheless we now know that 
General Foy was in one of the squares which, resisting 
all attacks, eventually retreated in safety. English and 
French authors differ as to the number of prisoners 
taken, the former alleging their numbers were nearly 
1400, while the latter admit that 900 were captured. 
Both generals employed nearly identical language 
in describing the daring courage shown by Bock's 
brigade of the King's German Legion. Wellington 
wrote, •* I never witnessed a more gallant charge," 
and Foy described it as "the most daring charge 
made during the Peninsular War." It is doubtful 
whether this and other grand examples of the power 
of cavalry, exemplified by our Hanoverian comrades, 
are sufficiently known to British soldiers of to-day, 
and I cite some of them not only from feelings of 
deep admiration, but also because I believe, under like 
conditions, able and determined cavalry leaders can 
gather now, as the German Legion did on the 23rd 
July, 1812, the fruits of a previous victory. In this 
instance, an infantry rear-guard, which had been march- 
ing and fighting for a week in the hottest season of 
the year, was, as often happens in a retreat, short of 
ammunition, and was, moreover, abandoned by its 
own cavalry when overtaken by the Cavalry of the 
Legion. 

Some soldiers, mainly those who have not seen 
hard fighting, believe that efficient well-trained in- 
fantry can always stop by volleys the advance of 
cavalry, while it is still far distant. They argue, from 
the range practices of our musketry courses, that 



i8l2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. $9 

modern rifles render past experience of little value, 
and to a certain extent this is so where the ground 
offers a perfect view of troops advancing to the 
attack ; but then such ground is seldom available 
in war. In the action I am about to describe, the 
broken ground hid the enemy so completely that 
the Duke of Wellington himself was unaware of 
the presence of infantry, and saw only cavalry in 
his front. Moreover, although we have improved 
rifles, the human heart is no flrmer than it was 
seventy years ago. Those who read Achievement 
No. XL will observe that the position of the dead 
bodies of men and horses in the undulating ground 
near Mars-la-Tour, corroborated the accounts in the 
"Regimental History" of the ist Dragoon Guards, 
which show that the only serious loss in squadrons 
occurred just as they closed on the infantry. That 
infantry had as good a rifle (for this argument) as 
any now in use, and the ** Regimental Records" 
prove clearly that while some men fell under distant 
rifle fire during the advance, yet the formation was 
not seriously deranged till the last volley struck the 
squadrons just as they closed on the foe. 

Most English officers gather their knowledge of 
events in the Peninsular War from the eloquent 
pages of Napier, our greatest military historian. 
Whether we accept or reject the accuracy of Alison's 
assertion that Napier was not favourable to cavalry 
as an Arm in war, we must admit, from what both 
friends and foes — who witnessed the Garcia Hernandez 
charge — said of it, that Napier's account describes but 
imperfectly what took place ; and the inadequacy of 
his accounts of what the King's German Legion 
did at some other places is shown by his omitting 



6o ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

entirely to mention that the ist Hussar regiment of 
the Legion captured four guns in the battle of Sala- 
manca, 24 hours before Von Bock's achievement. This 
appears, however, to be capable of explanation, without 
our admitting that Napier allowed his preference for 
infantry to blind his judgment Authors can write 
only from what they see or hear. Napier's battalion, 
the 43rd Light Infantry, was in reserve on the 22nd 
July, 18 1 2, and having marched on the evening of the 
22nd towards Huerta, did not reach Garcia Hernandez 
on the 23rd July until long after the action. That 
gifted author learnt details about other corps from the 
officers still serving in them when the " History " was 
being written, but the King's German Legion was dis- 
banded in 1 8 16, and for sixteen years no adequate 
effort was made to record, fully and permanently, 
" the eminently conspicuous bravery " shown by the 
officers and men who " participated in those achieve- 
ments which have conferred the highest lustre on the 
British army." * 

Though we learn little about the King's German 
Legion from the standard authority on our greatest 
war, yet their records, nevertheless, are replete with 
glorious deeds. When the Hanoverian army was 
dissolved, in January, 1803, His Royal Highness the 
Duke of Cambridge, father of our late commander- 
in-chief, was authorized, after some previous failures, 
to raise a force of Germans, in the first instance 
enlisting men for seven years' service, each recruit 
receiving a bounty of £7 12s. 6d, The bulk of the 
men had served in the Electoral army, and were of 
a higher class than the average sort of soldiers. The 
strength of the Legion was soon increased, and in 

* Extract from an order dated Horse Guards, 21st December, 1815. 



I8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 6l 

1806 it consisted of four cavalry regiments, nine 
battalions, and six batteries of artillery. It was em- 
ployed continuously and actively from 1807, when it 
took part in the expedition against the Danes, to the 
peace in 1815, sharing in nearly every victory gained 
by the British army in Europe. The cavalry was 
remarkable for vigilance and calculating audacity 
from its first campaign under English generals in the 
Danish expedition, to Waterloo, its last battle, where 
its conduct gained Lord Anglesey's warm approval. 
After criticizing, in a letter, the inaction of some 
foreign cavalry, he adds, " I class the German Legion 
entirely with the British cavalry." It numbered in 
its Ranks many brave men, but the name of Captain 
Krauchenberg was pre-eminent, not only for courage, 
but also for skilful leading, and it constantly appears 
in the history of the Legion. He distinguished himself 
as a cornet in the events leading up to the disbanding 
of the Hanoverian army in 1803. At i a.m. on the 
1 8th of August, 1807, when in pursuit of a convoy, he 
arrived with his squadron before Fort Friederickswerk, 
and imposing on its commander, induced him to sur- 
render the fort with its garrison of 800 men as well as 
the convoy which had taken shelter within its walls. 
Similar audacious courage was shown again six years 
later by Von Bock's brigade in the combat of the 
23rd July, 1 8 12, described below. 

The men of the Legion fought a little and suffered a 
great deal in common with their British comrades in 
the unfortunate Walcheren expedition. In Sir John 
Moore's retreat towards Corunna, the 3rd Hussars 
of the Legion supported most opportunely, outside 
Benavente, the picquets of the British cavalry at 



62 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

a critical moment. There had been continuous 
skirmishing during the last week of December, 1808. 
On the 28th of that month, the German Hussars 
drove back the French cavalry which had been fol- 
lowing in pursuit They remained out as rear-guard 
on the left bank of the Esla, in heavy rain and 
snow, till after nightfall on the 28th, and were then 
sent to their billets with orders to unsaddle and be 
ready to move early next day. Similar orders given 
to the British cavalry were carried out, but the 
Germans, by direction of their commanding officer, 
kept their horses saddled up, and when the English 
picquets were attacked at daybreak on the 29th by 
General Lefebvre Desnoiiettes with 600 cavalry of the 
Imperial Guard, they hurried off without forming up, 
to support the outlying picquets (furnished by the 7th, 
loth, and i8th Hussars), commanded by Colonel 
Otway, which were falling back. The Germans, ad- 
vancing in " Rank entire," arrived in time to rally the 
picquets, which, after a successful charge, were retiring 
rapidly before superior numbers, and the British pic- 
quets then charged again with them, and there ensued 
a hand-to-hand struggle under the windows of the 
houses of Benavente, the result of which was, however, 
still doubtful when the loth Hussars and remainder 
of the German Legion arrived, and Lord Paget took 
command. 

Napier devotes one and a quarter pages to this 
combat, mainly in praise of the English, and gives 
but three lines to the King's German Legion, saying, 
" the picquets retired fighting, but being joined by 
a party of the 3rd German Hussars, they charged the 
leading French squadron with some effect." Never- 
theless, while the total loss on the British side was 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 63 

about fifty casualties, the greater number of these 
occurred in the German Legion, who record forty- 
six. The picquet of the 7th Hussars, however, 
one of the first engaged, had also several killed or 
wounded. 

When, in June, 18 10, General Crauford decided to 
hold, with the Light division, his position on the 
right bank of the Coa, he had learnt by four months' 
previous experience to appreciate the vigilance of the 
King's German Legion. On the 26th of that month 
Lord Wellington, who had noticed that their horses 
were overworked, sent two squadrons of English 
dragoons to relieve them on the advanced outpost 
line, but Crauford declined to let the Germans go 
until he was personally ordered by Lord Wellington 
to do so. They, however, remained . in reserve, and 
on the 4th July, an hour before daybreak, when the 
British picquet was driven in so hastily from Marialva 
that it appeared at Gallegos with the enemy at its 
heels, the Reserve of the outposts, under Lieut-colonel 
Arenstschildt, was drawn up ready to receive it, four 
miles in front of the Light division, Captain Krau- 
chenberg's squadron and a troop of an English regi- 
ment being in front, with two British squadrons and 
guns further back. Captain Krauchenberg by gallop- 
ing forward towards the French checked their ad- 
vance, till Lieut-colonel Arenstchildt retired, in 
conformity with his orders not to fight unnecessarily. 
Krauchenberg then conformed to the movement, 
followed closely by the enemy, who crossed the 
bridge over the stream on the heels of the last of 
the German skirmishers. 

Krauchenberg had but just reformed his squadron 
when, although he saw the French had three regiments 



64 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

coming on in column, he rode headlong at them as 
they were reforming after crossing the bridge, and 
having killed the leaders, overthrew the front ranks, 
and drove the whole back. This attack was the more 
creditable from the following attendant circumstances. 
Alongside the half squadron of the King's German 
Legion, then nearest to the enemy, was a troop of 
English cavalry, to the commanding officer of which 
Krauchenberg proposed that they should attack 
simultaneously, but the Englishman replied that he 
did not consider his orders justified him in doing 
so; then the gallant German charged with his 
troop alone.* The Hussars cut down three officers 
and ffom ten to fifteen men, having themselves four 
men wounded, and three horses killed or wounded. 
When the French again advanced, Krauchenberg 
charged them once more, and the banks of the stream 
being too swampy to allow them to cross except at 
the bridge, maintained his position until Lord Wel- 
lington personally sent him an order to fall back on 
the infantry now in position 2000 yards in the rear. 
Crauford, who was also present, and whose fiery nature 
rendered him sympathetic with such deeds, published 
next day in Divisional orders his appreciation of the 
conduct of the ist German Hussars, "who with only 
part of a squadron, charged about three times their 
numbers of the enemy close in front of a column, to 
the admiration of all who saw it." Lord Wellington, 
in acknowledging the receipt of the Divisional order, 
added a warm expression " of his approval of the 
manner in which the regiment had carried out its 
long and fatiguing outpost duties." This discrimi- 
nation in selecting performance of duties for praise 

* See Napier, vol. iii. p. 285. 



I8l2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 6$ 

is characteristic of the two generals, Crauford and 
Wellington. 

Cavalry officers, when training their squadrons, 
may find it useful to refer to, and collate, Beamish's 
and Napier's accounts of the following operations : — 
General Crauford's attempt to cut off foraging parties 
on the nth July, 1810; the Outpost affairs of the 
1 6th and 17th September ; and the Rear-guard action 
of the 9th October, when losses were incurred in con- 
sequence of the Supports and Reserves being too far 
back from the picquet. It will be observed on this 
last occasion that the men had received no rations 
for forty-eight hours, nor the horses any forage for 
twenty-four hours. 

In the diaries of General Foy, which form the 
basis of his " History of the Peninsular War," pub- 
lished after his death, there is high praise of the men 
of the German Legion, not only for their skill in 
Outpost duty, but also for their bravery, which he 
says was *' unsurpassed by any of the troops serving 
in the Peninsula." Now, Foy had gained great experi- 
ence of the Germans, having been opposed to them 
for some time. His opinions and criticisms on our 
troops would have probably been toned down had 
he lived to revise his book, but as we may see from 
his word-portrait of Napoleon, quoted recently in 
Rope's " Campaign of Waterloo," his judgment was 
calm and impartial. Soldiers may hesitate to accept 
the gifted American's opinions on military points 
where they conflict with those of professional writers 
of acknowledged ability, but the wonderful industry, 
clearness of views, and fairness of Mr. Rope's sum- 
ming-up on disputed points, and his previous diligent 
study of the Napoleonic epoch, render his tribute to 

F 



66 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

General Foy's impartiality valuable for my purpose, 
which is to show how some great deeds were achieved 
by Cavalry, irrespective of its nationality. 

While Beamish's accounts are well worthy of study 
by squadron leaders who may be employed on out- 
posts or have to command a rear-guard pressed by 
an enemy, the " Golden Deeds " of private soldiers in 
the records of the Legion are full of interest for the 
Rank and File of cavalry. Colonel Lonsdale Hale, 
in an excellent lecture delivered to the non-com- 
missioned officers of the Aldershot Cavalry brigade 
in 1889, pointed out the great importance of every 
private realizing that the fate of armies may depend on 
his efficiency in reconnoitring duties. In order, how- 
ever, to achieve success in reconnoitring, a soldier must 
not only be thoroughly instructed, brave, and a good 
horseman, but also become master of his weapon, 
be it lance or sword. The difficulty of killing or cap- 
turing a man thus qualified may be seen from the deeds 
of Private Schroeder, ist Hussars King's German 
Legion, who is said to have cut down twelve French- 
men, and to have individually captured twenty-seven 
prisoners during the years 18 10-12. The French 
got to recognize him, and would call out to him by 
name, when he was seen advancing in the skirmishes 
which were of daily occurrence in the spring and 
summer of 18 10. He established such a reputation 
that a French officer coming over with a flag of 
truce asked to see him. 

Yet Schroeder was not the only hero of the Legion. 
During the bloody struggle for the hill of Albuera, on 
the 1 6th May, 1 811, Corporal Fincke so greatly dis- 
tinguished himself that Lord Wellington sent him ;^20 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 6/ 

for his conduct under the following circumstances: — 
Captain Cleve's battery, preceding Colonel Colborne's 
brigade up the hill, had just unllmbered, when it was 
caught, while the brigade was deploying, by some 
Polish Lancers, and Hussars. These horsemen, 
under cover of thick mist and rain, had got behind 
the right flank and rear of the brigade, unperceived, 
and even then were mistaken for Spaniards until they 
closed on our infantry, spearing the men and scatter- 
ing them in all directions. Cleve's battery became 
the centre of the struggle, and all the gunners of the 
right section were killed by the Lancers. Owing to 
the exertions of two sergeants, the left Section was 
limbered up, and was galloping to the rear when the 
shaft horse of one gun fell wounded, and the Lead 
driver of the other was killed. Fincke, jumping from 
his horse, took the place of the Lead driver and carried 
off the gun through the midst of the enemy's cavalry, 
his own horse, though loose, by galloping at his side, 
saving him from the sword-cuts of the pursuing foe. 
The other guns, both British and German, were 
abandoned, but were shortly afterwards re-taken by 
General Lumley's cavalry. 

Many readers of Marbot's life, who have not seen 
War, doubt his accuracy, but the Germans, who esteem 
small grants of money more highly than we do, and 
who are careful not to give rewards without the full 
assurance of their having been duly earned, have 
attested in the Guelphic Archives (given in the 
appendix of Beamish's second volume), "Accounts 
of courageous acts by individual Rank and File of 
the German Legion," which read like our Victoria 
Cross records, and rival many of Marbot's exploits. 

Before, and indeed after, the war in the Crimea, 



68 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [JULvas, 

British cavalry soldiers were not allowed, when 
mounted, to practise feats of arms for fear of laming 
the horses, and were individually no match for Sikhs ; 
but our system of training has, in later time, greatly 
improved, and it is now certain that men selected 
from our Ranks could account satisfactorily for the 
finest mounted swordsmen in the world. I think it 
well our horsemen should have an opportunity of 
learning what the comrades of their predecessors did 
ere they carried out the hardest task the cavalry 
soldier can be ordered to attempt, i.e. the breaking of 
a square of brave men. 

Garcia Hernandez. 

On the 22nd July, 1812, when the sun went down, the 
French were fighting hard to avoid being driven into 
the Tormes, Marshal Marmont had been severely 
wounded In the early part of the battle : his successor. 
Bonnet, was hit immediately afterwards, and the re- 
treat was now being conducted by General Clauzel, 
who also had been severely wounded, in the leg. 
"• -^rd Wellington being under the impression that the 
aniards held the castle of Alba de Tormes, which 
umanded the bridge at that place, led the ist and 
ght division and the cavalry towards Huerta, but 
the same time the French were crossing at Alba 
Tormes, and by the fords near the bridge at that 
ice, ten miles above Huerta. At 10 p.m, on the 
nd the French were heard crossing the bridge, 
t it was not until daybreak the following morning 
it the true line of retreat through Alba de Tormes 
vards Peneranda was discovered. During the 
ttle of the previous day, Arenstchildt's Light 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 69 

brigade had successfully delivered a dashing charge 
along the ravine of the Zurguen, but Bock's brigade, 
consisting of the ist and 2nd Dragoons of the Legion, 
of whose glorious achievements I am about to write, 
had been held in Reserve, upon the left of the 
Allied army. Before daybreak it left its bivouac 
at Pelebravo, and the brigade, as well as that of 
Major-general Anson, defiled past Lord Wellington 
on the river bank, and after some delay caused by 
the passage of the infantry, reached the right bank 
of the Tormes at eight o'clock, and then advanced in 
•* column of Route," Anson's brigade leading. 

Description of Ground,* — The scene of action is 
bounded on the North by the river Almar and its 
tributary the Marganon, and on the South by the 
Alaraz or Garci Caballero. The country lying 
between the streams consists of broken hills, the 
slopes of which are generally steep and well defined 
on the Southern sides, but fall gently towards the 
valley of the Almar. Both rivers are fordable at 
several places. Between the valley of the Alaraz 
and the Southern crest of the hills, a space varying 
from 1200 to 1500 yards, the country is open, with 
large patches of cultivation. The fields are generally 
unfenced except some near the crest of the hills, 
close to the road between Garcia Hernandez and 
Penerandilla. The roads are mere cart tracks, and as 
they do not form communication between any towns 
of importance, are much neglected. 

General Foy's division, which furnished the French 
Rear-guard, had been constantly moving since the 14th 
July. When Marshal Marmont wished to recross the 
Douro, in his advance on Salamanca, he massed his 

* See map at end of chapter. 



^0 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [JULY 23. 

troops between Toro, and Tordesillas, and in order to 
deceive Wellington marched troops constantly down 
the right bank of the river in full view of the English 
forces, sending them back during the night to re- 
occupy their former positions. Having thus induced 
Wellington to concentrate on his left, Marmont crossed 
the river, and was on the evening of the 17th at Nava 
del Rey. From that day, till the 22nd, the opposing 
forces were manoeuvring in close proximity. The 
heat was excessive, and on the 19th Marmont was 
obliged to halt till four o'clock in the afternoon to 
allow some of his stragglers to rejoin, Foy's division 
having covered forty-two miles in one day. The 
English troops had made much shorter marches, but, 
nevertheless, Marmont claims to have taken, on the 
20th July, between 300 and 400 stragglers. Our 
troops had some few hours' rest after the battle of 
the 22nd, but the French were necessarily moving 
all night, and cQuld have had but little to eat for 
twenty-four hours. 

When the leading British cavalry brigade came out 
on the plain about 10 a.m., several French squadrons 
were drawn up in line on the level ground, and some 
battalions of infantry were standing in squares on 
the hills to the Northward. The infantry, 6th Light 
and 69th regiments, were on the right of the cavalry 
and somewhat advanced, and in the intervals between 
the squares, the artillery of the division was drawn 
up. The rear battalion was moving in column up a 
slope to gain the crest of the high ground. Lord 
Wellington, who commanded in person, at first per- 
ceived the horsemen only, the artillery and infantry 
being concealed by an intervening hill, and he ordered 
the two brigades to attack the enemy's cavalry. 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 7 1 

Anson's brigade moved straight to its front against 
the left wing of the French squadrons. These did 
not await the shock, but retiring heistily, were followed 
up by the brigade. 

When Colonel Bock received the orders to charge, 
his brigade was in "sections of threes," moving at 
the gallop up a narrow valley. He gave the order, 
"On the move — Line to the front." Though this 
movement was obviously impossible, since the rear 
could not close up, yet it was attempted, and the 
whole column hurried on, making straight for the 
right flank of the enemy's cavalry. In front of 
the leading squadron rode the brigadier-general com- 
manding the brigade, the two field officers of the 
regiment and Lieut-colonel May, Royal Artillery, 
aide-de-camp to Lord Wellington, who had brought 
the order to charge. Colonel Bock, being short- 
sighted, observed to Colonel May, "But you will 
show us the enemy?" which he did effectually, guiding 
a squadron up to the bayonets of a square. Before 
the leading squadron (Hattorf s) could close with the 
cavalry in its front, the French retired, conforming 
with the squadrons on the left, which had been driven 
back by Anson's brigade, and von Hattorf followed 
in pursuit Coming under fire of the infantry 
squares on the hill. Colonel May, and several men 
and horses, fell, and the pursuit of the cavalry was 
discontinued. 

Captain Gustavus von Der Decken, seeing that if 
he followed the leading squadron he must pass close 
under the fire of the column which, having been 
furthest in rear, had halted on the slope of the hill, 
resolved to attack it This battalion (the 6th Light 
Infantry regiment) stood on the lower slopes of the 



72 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. I JUtY 23, 

hill, and, according to Napier, had not time to form 
square. This statement is, however, in direct conflict 
with the German narrative, and Marmont, in his 
Memoirs, says distinctly it was in square. General 
Sarazin, also, in mentioning the combat, writes : 
" Dont les carr^s furent rompus, sabres et disperse." 
Whatever may have been the formation, the men, 
though dust partly hid the horsemen, fired steadily, 
and a lieutenant and many men and horses were 
killed, von Der Decken falling mortally wounded 
when a hundred yards from the enemy. Then 
Captain von Usla Gleichen, the left troop leader, 
dashing up to the front, wheeled his troop to the 
right, as the right troop rode at another side of 
the square. The two front ranks, kneeling with the 
rear ranks standing behind, in all six deep, pre- 
sented an apparently impenetrable barrier, but a 
shot from one of the kneeling ranks, by killing a 
horse, threw both it and its rider on the bayonets, 
and into the gap thus made rode the dragoons. 
Though Bock's men and horses at first fell fast, the 
formation of the infantry once broken, the whole 
battalion was either sabred or taken prisoners. 

While the 3rd or left squadron was thus achiev- 
ing a glorious success, Captain von Reitzenstein, 
with the second squadron, seeing what the left 
squadron was doing, galloped at the next square, 
which stood on the crest of the hill, being met with 
a steady and well-directed fire. His two lieutenants 
were struck down as the squadron closed on the 
foe ; but the French infantry, seeing the square first 
attacked was broken, lost heart, and some few men 
leaving the ranks, Reitzenstein penetrated the square, 
and the greater part of the battalion was captured. 



i8i2.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 73 

Some, however, throwing away their arms, escaped 
by scrambling over adjoining enclosures. 

A third square, rapidly formed from those which 
had been previously overthrown, was now attacked 
by the second and third squadrons of the 2nd 
regiment. To the support of this square there came 
a few cavalry, which dispersed, however, on being 
charged, and the Germans then riding straight at 
the infantry, completely shattered its formation. 
Standing further back was yet another square of 
the 69th regiment, in which stood General Foy, 
and it was joined by some of the fugitives from the 
battalions just dispersed. Captain Baron Mashalk 
led the remnant of one and a half squadrons against 
it; and although some of the Frenchmen, having 
no further ammunition, were reduced to throwing 
stones, yet they stood firm, and the Germans were 
beaten off, Captain von Usla Gleichen, who had 
broken the first square, being killed. Brigadier- 
general Mollard, who commanded the rear brigade 
of Foy's division, was taken prisoner, with from 900 
to 1400 of his men (according to the varying esti- 
mates of the respective nationalities). The French 
accounts say the 69th regiment saved the guns, but 
it does not appear that they came into action. 

I have been unable to ascertain the exact number 
of sabres present under von Bock. The brigade 
embarked for the Peninsula at Christmas the pre- 
vious year with 400 horses to a regiment ; and as 
the reinforcements, including those of the cavalry, 
did not reach Wellington till after the battle of 
Salamanca, the squadrons (three) could not have 
numbered more than 1 10 horses. The loss was four 
officers, forty-eight Rank and File, and sixty-seven 



74 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 

horses killed ; two officers, fifty-six Rank and File, 
and forty-six horses wounded, while six men and 
four horses were taken by the enemy. His Royal 
Highness the Prince Regent, to mark his apprecia- 
tion of these glorious deeds, made permanent in the 
English army the temporary rank which the officers 
of this brigade then held. 

The King's German Legion was not actively en- 
gaged on the 23rd July after its brilliant performance 
of the morning, but the French rear-guard was over- 
taken once more later in the day by the troops acting 
under the direct command of Lord Wellington, who 
was in the extreme front with one squadron and a 
battery, which is now represented by No. i Second 
Dep6t division.* The battery, having outstripped 
the march of the infantry, was threatened by French 
cavalry, and Lord Wellington, dismounting, person- 
ally directed the fire of the guns. This indicates 
that on the 23rd July his conduct was not open to 
the criticism of being slack in following a beaten 
enemy (see Napier, vol. v. p. 184). As Clauzel's 
men did not halt on the 23rd until they reached 
Flores de 'Avila, a distance of forty miles, the 
English infantry, which started twelve miles further 
back, could not have overtaken them. Lord Welling- 
ton himself, however, must have been close on their 
heels, as his despatch is dated on the 24th July 
from that town. General Clauzel was joined on the 
evening of the 23rd by 1500 cavalry and twenty 
guns detached from the army of the North. He 
would probably have had more effectives on the 24th 
if the pursuit of our cavalry and the state of his 
troops had permitted of his marching more slowly, 

* Stt Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, 



i 



I8i3.] GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 75 

for irrespective of the loss in killed, wounded, and 
prisoners, amounting to 12,500, this rapid retreat cost 
him at least temporarily nearly 7000 stragglers. In 
addition to the marches and countermarches made 
behind the Douro, the French army of 42,000 men, 
between the i8th and 30th July, marched 200 miles, 
and fought four times. 

Comments, — It is interesting to observe how gene- 
rously the English Government behaved when dis- 
pensing with the services of the King's German 
Legion in 1856. Possibly the exceptional services 
rendered by their predecessors forty years earlier 
induced such treatment. I do not know all the 
conditions, but in 1816 even the greatcoats were 
returned into store if they had not been in wear for 
at least two years. In 1856 the men received a 
gratuity of a year's pay, and had the option either 
of a free passage to their homes, or to North 
America, or to the Cape of Good Hope. About 
2300 settled down at the Cape as military colonists, 
with donations of land and a sum of money to build 
a house. 

Cavalry officers will observe the grave error of 
judgment which induced the brigadier in command 
to accompany, with the field officers of the regiment, 
the leading squadron of the column, and the conse- 
quent disconnected though very gallant charges 
which were made on the initiative of five squadron 
leaders, while the sixth squadron of the brigade 
remained unemployed. Lord Anglesey, who did not 
spare himself when, by stating facts, he could teach 
us lessons, writing in 1839 of the cavalry combats 
of Waterloo, says : " I committed a grave mistake 
in having led the attack. ... If I had placed myself 



y6 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 23, 1812. 

at the head of the second line there is no saying 
what great advantages might not have been attained. 
... I am the less pardonable because I had already 
sufTered from a similar error." 

In order that we may consider what are the 
chances of attacking a rear-guard, as was done so 
successfully on the 23rd July, 181 2, it must be borne 
in mind — 

1st. That the French infantry had been fighting 
from 4 to 9 p.m. on the 22nd July. 

2nd. That it had been moving throughout the 
night, and next morning until overtaken by pursuing 
cavalry. 

3rd. That the strain on the mental and physical 
strength of the men must have seriously impaired 
their powers of resistance. 

4th. That having had no opportunity of obtaining 
more ammunition after the battle, the men were 
reduced to throwing stones at the horsemen in the 
last charge. 

I do not advocate indiscriminate charging of 
infantry in close formation, but rather that such, 
when unshaken, should be avoided. This will, 
however, seldom be the case in a pursuit following 
immediately on a decisive battle. I will conclude 
this narrative with the expression of my conviction 
that my younger comrades, with equal courage, better 
training, and consequently greater skill than their 
predecessors possessed, will, if opportunity offers, 
surpass all previous achievements. 



II. 




,685 



zooo Yards 

I 



R GARCIA HERNANDEZ. 
JULY 23KD, 181 2. 



ZToface P' 76. 



I 



No. V. 



DRESDEN 

27/^ August, 1813. 



No. V. 

DRESDEN, 2^th August, 1813. 

General Prince Murat, with 10,000 cavalry and Victor's 
Army Corps in support, kills or wounds 4000 men, 
and takes 12,000 prisoners. 

Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley, in his 
** Downfall of Napoleon," shows clearly how the fatal 
results of the campaign in Russia (18 12) affected the 
Emperor's power ; and Alison points out that it became 
necessary, at this period, to conscribe i in every 40 
males of the population of France, whereas i in 100 is 
the maximum which should be taken if that country 
is to be properly cultivated. The conscription of men 
at twenty years of age for the year 181 3 should have 
fallen on those born in 1793, but as 1,200,000 were 
taken into the army that year, they had no children 
at the time, and thus a large number of the men 
drafted into the ranks in 181 3 were not more than 
eighteen years of age. This was very detrimental to 
efficiency in the infantry, and was brought forcibly to 
Napoleon's mind when he saw the boyish faces and 
forms of the dead in riding over the battle-field of 
Lutzen (2nd May, 18 13). 

It takes three times as long to train cavalry soldiers 
as infantry, and the cost is three times greater, so the 



8o ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

difficulties of the Mounted branches were even more 
serious than those of dismounted corps. 

When we reflect that the Moscow campaign cost 
the Empire 450,000 men in killed, wounded, sick, 
and prisoners, 930 cannon, and 186,000 horses, we 
must, indeed, marvel at Napoleon's extraordinary 
energy in putting new armies into the field between 
the 19th December, 181 2, when he reached Paris, and 
the spring of 181 3, wanting though they were in 
training and discipline. 

The correspondence of the Emperor and his sub- 
ordinate generals at this period is very instructive. 
The Duke of Ragusa (Marmont), writing from Hanau 
on the 2nd April, 181 3, to the chief of the Staff, re- 
ports : *' I have been obliged to draw corporals and 
old soldiers from three different regiments * to help 
the 23rd Light Infantry. This regiment has only 
one officer per company, scarcely one sergeant per 
company, and no corporal with more than three 
months' service." And some days later the Marshal 
urges that the Emperor may be informed that an 
Army Corps without officers, and some old soldiers to 
instruct recruits, cannot be made fit for Field service. 
He proceeds, further, to state that he has not a 
single cavalry soldier, no Staff officers, no doctors, no 
ambulance waggons, and not even one Commissariat 
officer. He finishes up his letter by pointing out 
that, though he has a large number of men, they 
are wanting in all the machinery essential for the 
movements of an army. 

Some of Napoleon's answers are quaint He 

 It is interesting to observe that one of these, the 37th Light Infantry, 
a fortnight later, on being threatened by cavalry at night, became panic- 
stricken and ran away, firing on its own divisional Staff-officers. 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 8 1 

writes to Marmont, from Mayence, four separate 
letters on the 17th April to the following effect : — 

" My Cousin, 

" I have no news of your Army Corps. They 
tell me you report to the War Office. That is use- 
less ; your letters will be pigeon-holed ! Let me 
know immediately what officers and stores you 
want." 

The Emperor's power of work was marvellous. 
He instructed his Marshals how to organize Cavalry, 
Artillery, and Infantry ; and, while urging them to 
inspect every company in every battalion in their 
commands, separately and closely, he directed that 
the regiments should be constantly practised in 
forming battalion squares. Marmont, in answering 
one of the Emperor's letters about the artillery, 
observes plaintively, that one draft of old soldiers 
had been already selected from the corps, and that to 
take 1000 more selected men away from a body of 
9000, of which 4000 were actually recruits, would 
emasculate the fighting value of the remainder. 

The Marshal's difficulties were great, for on the 
26th April he reports that in one regiment over 100 
men had neither trousers nor boots. Nothing was too 
great or too small for the Emperor's notice, for when 
notifying to the duke that he would shortly receive 
in his command a Spanish battalion, he directed that 
it should never be employed on advanced guard, or 
by itself, but only when surrounded by French bat- 
talions, lest it should desert to the enemy. 

Marmont's work in superintending the formation of 
a cavalry Corps was soon interrupted, for he had to go 

G 



82 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

forward with his infantry. When we recall that few 
divisions of the so-called " Grand Army " had more 
than 800 or 900 men left of all Arms on the evacua- 
tion of Russia, and that practically no Army horses 
remained alive in December, 18 12, we shall realize 
what war meant under Napoleon. When Marmont's 
corps marched from Hanau at the end of April, in 
spite of strenuous efforts, he could only make up 
four squadrons by taking all the effectives from eight 
different regiments. 

The battles of Lutzen and Bautzen (20th May, 
181 3) were necessarily barren in results, since 
Napoleon had an insufficient number of horsemen to 
reap the fruits of the victories won by the infantry ; 
and after that of Bautzen, where the ground was 
admirably suited for the operation of mounted troops. 
Napoleon must have felt acutely the weakness of 
these Arms when he exclaimed, ** What I no guns, no 
prisoners — after all this slaughter ! " 

As both the Emperor and the Allies required time 
to bring up troops into the sphere of operations, an 
Armistice was concluded on the 4th June, to last till 
the 28th July, a date which was subsequently pro- 
longed to the loth August, with six days* notice 
prior to the renewal of hostilities. On the 14th, 
however, the Allies, alleging the French had infringed 
the truce, occupied Breslau, and Blucher, advancing 
on the 15th, surprised the French in their canton- 
ments, and they fell back behind the river Bober. 

Napoleon left Dresden the same day with the 
Imperial Guard, and on the 21st re-establishing the 
Lowenb^rg bridge under fire, drove back Yorck's 
Corps of Prussians. He now heard of the advance 
of the Allies from Prague, on Dresden, and, after 



iSij] DRESDEN. 83 

sending back the Guard on the 22nd — having next 




day satisfied himself that Blucher was in full retreat— 



84 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

he turned Westwards, ordering Marmont's Corps and 
Latour-Maubourg's cavalry to follow him towards 
Dresden, where St Cyr, with some 18,000 men, of 
. whom only half were really French, and they were 
mostly recruits, was in great danger of being over- 
whelmed by Prince Schwarzenberg, who had arrived 
outside the city from Prague, with 100,000 men and 
250 guns. 

Although Napoleon, by employing working parties 
of 3000 peasants, had materially strengthened the 
position, yet it was far too extensive for the force 
available for its defence. Moreover, though the de- 
fences on the right bank of the Elbe were secure, much 
less had been effected on the left bank, where the 
enemy was advancing. If the Allies had attacked on 
the 24th, as Moreau* advised, the city must have fallen, 
but Schwarzenberg insisted on waiting for Klenau's 
Corps, and this delay afforded Napoleon time to 
arrive. He, indeed, had not come back as quickly 
as he might have done, for, not recognizing the 
imminence of St Cyr's danger, the Emperor thought 
at first that he might, by marching direct from 
Bautzen to Pirna, cut the Allies off from Bohemia. 
He awaited, therefore, on the 25th, at Stolpen, on 
the road to Pirna, the return of Colonel Gourgaud, 
whom he had despatched to see General St. Cyr. 
The Colonel got back to Stolpen at 1 1 p.m. on the 
2Sth, and confirmed all previous reports that, short of 
the Emperor's arrival with an adequate number of 
troops, Dresden must fall within twenty-four hours. 
Napoleon hesitated no longer, and at daylight the 

* After nine years' residence in America, to which country he retired 
after his condemnation in 1804, he came back to Europe and joined the 
Russian Headquarter Stafif. 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 8$ 

Guard, Victor's Corps, and the cavalry of Latour- 
Maubourg, all of which had covered 120 miles in the 
four previous days,* commenced a forced march 
Westwards. 

Description of the Battle-field.^ — The city of Dresden 
is divided by the Elbe into two parts, but we are now 
concerned only with the ground outside the old city, 
which is built on the left, or Southern bank, on nearly 
level ground. 

Outside the slight defences which Napoleon had 
caused to be erected to protect the Southern suburbs, 
the ground to the Southward rises gradually, till, 
about two miles from the river, it attains a height of 
seventy feet above the city. Near Raecnitz the crest- 
line of the range runs generally East and West, till the 
Weisseritz stream cuts its way through the hills, as it 
flows down to the Elbe, passing between the suburb 
of Friedrichstadt and the city. This stream exercised 
great influence over the results of the battle, for troops 
posted on its left bank could not communicate with 
the main army except by the bridges at Lobtau and 
at Plauen. Just above Plauen the valley becomes a 
ravine with steep banks, which adds greatly to its 
importance as an obstacle. 

Although the fields on the high ground to the 
Westward of the Weisseritz stream are unfenced, yet 
the vineyards, gardens, wells, and hamlets studded 
over the undulating country would have afforded the 
Austrian infantry considerable protection against the 
French cavalry, had musketry fire been available. 

• This is the French statement, but Colonel Cathcart, in his " War 
in Russia and in Germany, 1812-13," also mentions that the French 
troops marched' thirty miles for three successive days. 

t See map at end of the chapter. 



86 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

Moreover, though no use was made of the ravines 
between Dolzchen and Wolfnitz by the French 
cavalry, yet they were traversed by Victor's columns, 
which approached Metzko's division, unseen by the 
Austrians, and, as will be seen presently, by oppor- 
tunely occupying his troops in front, materially aided 
Latour-Maubourg*s turning movements. Between 
Dolzchen and Wolfnitz, on the Freiburg road, there 
are six of these hollows, running generally from 
South-west to the North-east, i.e. from the higher 
ground down to the Weisseritz valley. 

Before daylight on the 26th August, St. Cyr had 
withdrawn his men into the suburbs of the city, and 
had been for hours anxiously looking towards the posi- 
tion of the Allies, momentarily expecting their attack, 
when, at 10 a.m.. Napoleon galloped over the Elbe 
bridge, closely followed by the head of his columns, 
which continued to stream in unceasingly till sunset. 
At 4 p.m., after the Allied artillery had delivered a 
heavy cannonade, the infantry, descending from the 
elevated ground about Raecnitz, assaulted with great 
dash, and carried some of the outworks which covered 
the exits from the city, shouting, "To Paris! to 
Paris!" The head of one column broke in the 
Plauen gate, but then the French troops charged 
out, and, after some fierce fighting, by 9 p.m. had 
driven back the Allies to their former position. An 
hour later the Austrians made another attack on 
the Plauen gate, but it failed. Colonel Cambronne, 
with his men, taking a whole battalion prisoners, with 
its Colour. By midnight all was quiet, though the 
opposing forces were so close that the *' Cantini^res " * 
of both nations sat in the village of Strehlen, where 

* Female sutlers. 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 87 

Austrian and French officers and men drank together, 
and discussed the events of the battle. 

Napoleon, on returning from the field, without 
taking a moment's rest, dictated instructions for the 
following day to Berthier, his Chief of the Staff, and 
at the first break of dawn their execution was 
commenced. The orders which dealt with the 
subject of my tale directed that the greater part 
of the cavalry (that of the Guard excepted) should 
move out by Friedrichstadt under command of 
Murat, who was to make a wide turning movement 
round the enemy's left flank, and cut off his retreat 
on Freiberg, while Marshal Victor attacked direct to 
his front on the Freiberg road, being accompanied by 
Pajol's division of cavalry. Marmont was to occupy 
the attention of the Allies on, and between, the Dip- 
poldiswalde and Dohna roads, and Ney was to push 
vigorously forward on the Pilnitz road.* 

About midnight rain began to fall, and somewhat 
later a storm burst, which extending over Poland, 
Hungary, Bohemia, and a great part of Germany, in- 
fluenced materially the course of the battle next day. 
The rain, by rendering the muskets practically use- 
less, not only made the infantry firearms innocuous, 
but rendered the artillery incapable of moving far off 
the main roads. 

When Napoleon mounted his horse at 6 a.m. on 
the 27th August, rain was still falling in torrents, 
obscuring all objects but those near at hand ; but the 
outposts of Victor's Corps reported that a part of 
the Austrian army was crossing the valley of the 

* Jomini states this was the only battle in which Napoleon attacked 
on both flanks. The battle is remarkable also in that it was the last 
decisive victory won by the Emperor, since those of 1814 and 1815 
were barren of results. 



88 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

Weisseritz, and moving towards the high ground 
near Gorbitz, leaving, however, an interval of nearly 
a mile, where it was intended that Klenau's Corps 
should take up its position. On the evening of the 
26th, however, when the Austrian cavalry was with- 
drawn from the ground about the Freiburg road, 
the leading division only of Klenau's corps, com- 
manded by General Metzko, had arrived. Mumb's 
brigade, sent to reinforce Metzko, came up to the 
Westward of Gorbitz soon after daylight on the 27th, 
when the line of the Allies, North of the Weisseritz 
stream, stood practically as follows : Aloys Lichten- 
stein's division occupied Dolzchen and Rossthal and 
the intervening ground between the latter place and 
the Freiburg road, holding Nauslitz as an advanced 
post ; and to the North of the Freiburg road stood 
Metzko's division, the extreme left being watched by a 
brigade of Hussars, and two squadrons of Cuirassiers. 
The Austrian troops were, not unnaturally, de- 
pressed by the events of the preceding afternoon, 
when they had been badly beaten ; they were also 
very short of food, deficient of equipment, and 
exhausted by long marches. Neither the Generals 
nor the Staff had any knowledge of the ground, and 
the blinding rain and mist added to their difficulties 
in becoming acquainted with it. On the other hand, 
some of the French officers were well acquainted 
with the position, St Cyr's Corps having been left at 
Dresden when Napoleon marched to Silesia ; the 
men had all the confidence accruing from the success 
of the previous day, and though very young and 
wanting in discipline, were commanded by general 
officers who had been for many years almost 
universally successful in war. 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 89 

Victor assembled his Corps (the 2nd) between 
6 and 7 a.m., formed in four columns, outside the 
Freiburg gate. These were followed by a brigade of 
cavalry ; while North of the road, though somewhat 
in rear, moved General Pajol's cavalry division. 
Further to the North, Latour-Maubourg's Corps, 
acting under Prince Murat's orders, cleared the 
suburb of Friedrichstadt by 7 o'clock, and soon after 
9 a.m., unperceived by the main body of the Austrians 
till it was too late for them to guard against the 
movement, 10,000 sabres, with six Horse batteries, 
had reached the rising ground overlooking Cotta. 
This cavalry Corps was composed of two divisions 
of Light cavalry, commanded by Generals Corbineau 
and Chastel, and a division of Dragoons and Cara- 
biniers under General Bordesoule. The strength and 
composition of Bordesoule's division indicates clearly 
the weakness of the French in cavalry: ist brigade 
(General Bercheim),6 squadrons; 2nd brigade (General 
Bessiferes), 8 squadrons ; 3rd brigade (General Lessing), 
1st and 2nd Regiment of Saxon Cuirassiers. 

I will first describe General Victor's operation, for 
though nearly all the cavalry's captures were made 
at some distance from the infantry, yet the complete 
success of Murat's turning movement was greatly due 
to the support received from the infantry. 

Victor brought three batteries into action in front of 
his four infantry columns, which moved, counting from 
South to North, respectively on Dolzchen, Nauslitz, 
Rossthal, and Wolfnitz, the latter column afterwards 
carrying Nieder Gorbitz. On Victor's right stood a 
part of Teste's division, a little to the East of Lobtau, 
the infantry and Murat's cavalry moving in concert, 
but the horsemen thrown forward in echelon. 



90 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

Latour-Maubourg advanced in column to the North 
of Lobtau, where he deployed two lines facing South- 
wards, detaching a Cuirassier regiment to cover the 
right flank, while another Cuirassier regiment passed 
through the village of Cotta, which by this time had 
been evacuated by the brigade of Austrian Hussars. 
The Cuirassiers, now forming up a little to the 
North-east of Burgstadtel, were already actually in 
rear of the left of Metzko's division. The brigade 
of Austrian Hussars made a show of resistance, and 
then retired at a gallop to the South of Burgstadtel, 
where there was a desultory skirmish for a short 
time, until the Saxon Cuirassiers advanced to attack, 
when the Hussars retreated, in the first instance to 
Pennrich, but they were virtually not seen again on 
the field of battle, and were pursued by a half squadron 
of the Cuirassiers of the Guard. 

Metzko, on seeing a mass of cavalry in his front 
and flank, fell back gradually through Gorbitz to 
Compitz, about which places all his men, as well as 
Mumb's brigade, were eventually destroyed or taken 
prisoners. As Metzko's troops retreated they were 
followed by the French Horse artillery, which, coming 
into action from hill to hill, inflicted considerable loss 
on this isolated force of Austrians. 

Meanwhile Victor was pressing his attack. Naus- 
litz fell at the second assault, its defenders retiring to 
Rossthal, losing many men as they passed through 
the narrow village street, and the French columns 
passing up the hollow ways, perhaps not deep 
enough to be called ravines, but which concealed 
the columns from the view of the enemy, pushed on 
until they came to the head of these hollows to the 
Westward, where they open out on level ground. 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 91 

Here the Austrians stood firm, but when another 
hitherto unperceived column emerged from the ravine 
midway between Rossthal and Dolzchen, the Austrian 
flank being completely turned, their line broke before 
the bayonet charge delivered by the French, and 
the men fled Northwards and Southwards, a battery 
narrowly escaping capture as the French infantry ran 
forward. Rossthal was now easily captured, 300 men 
being taken prisoners in one farm building, and with 
its fall, the right flank of General Aloys Lichtenstein*s 
division was turned, part retiring into Neu Nimptsch, 
and part towards Dolzchen," those at the latter village 
preparing the vineyard walls to resist an attack from 
the Northward, while some of their comrades were 
still near Neu Nimptsch, facing Eastward. 

Dolzchen, standing 100 feet above the plain, was 
naturally strong from its position, and the French 
delivered three unsuccessful assaults, but about 2 p.m. 
several of the houses caught fire. The French seized 
this opportunity, and renewing the attack, stormed 
the village. Its defenders broke up, and, panic- 
stricken, ran precipitately in every direction. It 
was fortunate for the French that the defeat of the 
Austrians at this point was complete, for Victor's 
men, once in the village, broke open the wine-cellars, 
and gave themselves up to the enjoyment of an 
unlimited supply of liquor. 

Turning again to the cavalry, whose opportunity 
arrived when the Austrians were outflanked between 
Rossthal and Neu Nimptsch, I will deal first with the 
column which followed the infantry South of the 
Freiburg road. It co-operated with it, and assisted 
in driving the Austrians through Wolfnitz, and South- 
ward up to the hill equi-distant between Ober Gorbitz 



92 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

and Neu Nimptsch. While NausHtz and Wolfnitz 
were being captured from Lichtenstein's men by 
the French, Metzko had fallen back to Ober Gorbitz, 
which he held with part of his infantry, while the 
brigade (Mumb) stood in the village to receive Murat's 
advancing column, which was preceded by both Horse 
and Field artillery, the latter having been brought up 
from Teste's division. The Austrians endeavoured 
to hold Gorbitz, but, threatened in front, flank, and 
rear, its defenders soon drew off towards Pesterwitz. 

Time was now of great importance to the re- 
mainder of the Austrian infantry. Some of those 
who had held Wolfnitz were still coming in, and 
Victor's divisional cavalry, and that of Pajol, was 
approaching just as Bordesoule's cavalry was attack- 
ing the squares in the angle midway between 
Neu Nimptsch and Ober Gorbitz. At this moment 
a body of French infantry appeared, coming from 
the hollow ground South of the Freiburg road. 
The bravest men in such an unfortunate position 
would have been unable to resist. Pounded by 
artillery, charged by cavalry from the South-west 
and North, and threatened by the approaching in- 
fantry columns from the East, many of the Austrians 
were cut down, but the larger portion surrendered, 
while a few fled towards Pesterwitz. This action 
gave rise to several remarkable scenes. General 
Bordesoule confronted a brigade of Aloys Lichten- 
stein's division, formed in square. The French com- 
mander, riding to the front, summoned the Austrians 
to surrender, saying, "Your muskets won't go off!" 

To which their leader replied, " Surrender ! Never ! 
If our muskets won't go off, your horses cannot charge 
in mud up to their hocks." 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 93 

"That IS right," replied Bordesoule; "but I will 
blow you to atoms with my guns." 

"You have got none up with you," replied the 
Austrian. 

"Yes, I have," was the reply, and a battery of 
Horse artillery trotting up, unlimbered within lOO 
yards of the square. The Austrians, seeing the 
French gunners standing with lighted port fires in 
hand, realized the impossibility of further resistance, 
and surrendered. 

According to General Marbot's narrative, it was 
the Emperor's foresight which enabled the Horse and 
Field batteries to move over the sodden ground, for 
the previous evening he had supplemented the teams 
of his artillery by horses taken from the transport 
then standing idle within the city. 

During the struggle of Horsemen against Footmen, 
who were unable to fire, several expedients were 
adopted in order to break the ranks of the steadfast 
Austrian infantry, who, by stabbing the noses of their 
opponents' horses — which seldom approached faster 
than at the walk — for some time eflfectually resisted 
all attacks. One square was broken by the expe- 
dient of sending forward Cuirassiers with drawn 
pistols, who, riding close up to the ranks, shot the 
infantry, and then, being followed by squadrons in 
mass, broke in over the fallen bodies. 

With the capture of Ober Gorbitz, all communi- 
cation between Metzko's and Aloys Lichtenstein's 
divisions was arrested. The Austrian Field-marshal, 
Weissenwolf, who was himself near Dolzchen, at this 
time ordered General Metzko to retire, but it was now 
too late to save the division. While these events 
were happening in the Plauen valley, and on its 



94 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

slopes South of the Freiburg road, Latour- 
Maubourg's Corps had been actively operating 
against Metzko's left. Prince Murat, in the morn- 
ing, had sent a brigade to the extreme North of 
the battle-field, and a detachment from it seized 
Pennrich, thus completely separating the Corps of 
General Klenau from Metzko, and barring the latter's 
retreat to the Westward. 

While the fight about Nieder Gorbitz was pro- 
gressing, a brigade of Latour-Maubourg's command 
moved from the Northward through Gorbitz, where it 
turned to the Westward, and on coming to the open 
ground immediately to the West of that village, the 
squadrons found themselves in front of an Austrian 
battery, flanked on either side by two large squares. 
The battery opened fire as the French cavalry 
appeared, but their guns were laid too high, and the 
only loss at this time inflicted on the cavalry was 
caused by a party of Riflemen posted in a ravine 
behind some trees. Possibly they had another form 
of fire-arm, but at all events they kept up a warm fire, 
which would have been more serious had not a French 
infantry column appeared at that moment, which, 
attacking the Riflemen, drove them off. The French 
cavalry now advanced on the squares, and the 
battery, abandoning its infantry, limbered up, and 
drove off*. Twice the attack, which was made at 
the walk, failed, the Austrians standing firm in ranks 
three deep, and presenting an unbroken front of 
bayonets. Latour-Maubourg, who was present, then 
sent for his personal escort, which consisted of 
half a squadron of Lancers, and having placed 
these at the head of the column, sent the mass 
forward. The Lancers speared the front rank of 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. 95 

the Austrian infantry, and then the squares were 
practically annihilated ! 

Murat himself, gorgeously attired, led a brigade 
of Cuirassiers and Carabiniers against one of the 
squares of General Metzko's division, and though the 
horses, sinking deep in the mud, could not be urged 
much beyond a walk, yet he broke through, for the 
powder in the pans of the flint-lock muskets was so 
saturated by the rain, which still fell heavily, that but 
few of the pieces would go off. Indeed,, the guns of 
the artillery and the pistols of the Cuirassiers, which 
were protected in the wallets from the wet, were 
practically the only available fire-arms, for the 
French muskets were equally non-effective, and on 
the Eastern flank of the battle-field, at the same time, 
two battalions of the Imperial Guard carried position 
after position with the bayonet, without firing a shot. 

When the French cavalry were seen to be pressing 
Lichtenstein's men, one division of Austrian cavalry 
was sent to assist their infantry comrades, but the 
slopes of the hills they descended were too slippery 
to enable horsemen to ride fast. They were met, 
moreover, by the Dragoons of General Doumerc's 
division, and repulsed, for nothing could be effected 
by one division against the overwhelming numbers 
of its foes. It is difficult to imagine any adequate 
reason for the Allies allowing 20,000 of their horse- 
men to remain idle in rear. The three divisions of 
Austrian Cuirassiers alone might, by confronting 
Latour-Maubourg's Corps, have saved the day. There 
were, moreover, at the time, thousands of Russian 
horsemen sitting motionless behind the Allied Centre 
and Right. 

To revert for a minute to the other flank of the 



96 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 27, 

battle-field. About 9 a.m. Napoleon had just ordered 
the artillery near the Dippoldiswalde gate to fire 
faster, in order to attract attention to that part of the 
battle-field, when the sky cleared a little for a few 
minutes, and the Allied Sovereigns, being seen on 
the hill above Raecnitz, attracted the aim of the 
French artillerymen. At 1 1 a.m. Napoleon, hearing 
Latour-Maubourg's guns in action to the Westward 
of Plauen, galloped to the extreme left (Eastern) 
fiank, to push it forward as fast as the heavy ground, 
into which the infantry sank, would allow, in order to 
drive the right of the Allies off the Pilnitz (Pima) 
road. 

On the Eastern flank of the battle, where the Allies 
had the greater part of their armies, the Russian 
cavalry closed several times with General Nansouty's 
cavalry of the Guard, and gained some advantage, 
the French losing 500 prisoners. Irrespective, how- 
ever, of the numbers engaged in these struggles, 
behind the Allied centre there sat 10,000 cavalry, 
commanded by the Grand Duke Constantine, who 
never drew their swords. 

Eventually the six Austrian divisions on the left 
flank, separated from the Centre by the Weisseritz 
stream, and the Plauen ravine ; assaulted in front by 
Victor's Corps,and attacked in rear by Murat's Cavalry, 
were utterly routed. By 2 p.m. Murat had killed or 
wounded between 4000 and 5000, and had captured 
12,000 men. The cavalry then moved in pursuit, 
and next day took many more prisoners and guns ; 
the total loss, which fell principally on the Austrians, 
being 22,000 casualties, 18,000 prisoners, 26 cannons, 
and 18 stands of Colours. 

Ney had meanwhile pushed forward so far on the 



i8i3.] DRESDEN. gj 

Pilnitz road, that, had the Russians made a counter 
attack, as was intended,* he might have been driven 
back into the Elbe, but that Barclay de Tolly disap- 
proved of the movement, and, at 4 p.m. Schwarzenberg 
having decided to fall back, by dusk the Allies were 
in full retreat. 

The presence on a battle-field of Sovereigns who 
are not professional soldiers is always embarrassing 
to a Commander-in-chief, but in this instance the 
commander was trammelled by having two Monarchs, 
the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia, 
at his elbow. The divided counsels and want of 
unity of action in the Austrian army were fatal to 
the Allies. 

The success of untrained French cavalry soldiers, 
mounted on unbroken horses, who could not be trusted 
to charge except in column, over the equally brave 
opposing Austrian infantry, was due to the rain 
having rendered fire-arms temporarily useless. This 
cannot occur again, but the introduction of breech- 
loading rifles will tend to greater expenditure of 
ammunition ; and as Kempt's brigade, at Quatre Bras 
(181 5), and the three battalions 24th (German) Regi- 
ment at Vionville (1870), expended all their ammuni- 
tion early in the day, when the fate of the respective 
battles was still undecided, a similar situation may 
possibly recur, and thus offer brilliant opportunities 
to an enterprising cavalry leader. 

 It was at this time that Moreau, who was riding with the Emperor 
Alexander of Russia, was mortally wounded by a cannon-ball, which 
carried off his legs and killed the horse he was riding. 



H 




THE BATTLE-FIELD OF DRESDEN, 
r 27TH, 1813. 



No. VI. 



WACHAU (NEAR Leipsic), 
i6th October, 1813. 



No. VI. 

t 

WACHAU (near Leipsic), i6th October, 1813. 

Six thoasaud cavalry, under the command of Oeneral 
Prince Murat, capture 26 fpxnB\ but for want of 
Supports are driven back by one regiment, which, 
being followed by others, recaptuires all but two 
of the cannon. 

In the previous chapter we left the Emperor Napoleon 
on the afternoon of the 27th August, when his troops 
were following up the beaten armies of the Allies. 
Next day, after lunching at Pirna,* a town ten miles 
to the South-east of Dresden, he was seized with an 
attack of spasms in the bowels — an illness which was 
coincident, moreover, with the receipt of dispiriting 
news from Generals Oudinot and Macdonald. 

The former had been defeated at Gros Beeren f on 
the 23rd August, when endeavouring to occupy Berlin. 
Macdonald, surprised on the Bober river by Prince 
Blucher, after fighting two days (26th and 27th 
August), had fallen back with the loss of 25,000 
men and 30 guns. Nor were these the only mis- 
fortunes falling on the French army. Napoleon had 
returned on the 28th to Dresden, where he remained 
undecided as to his movements, till the arrival of 
fugitives from the neighbourhood of Culm, on the 
afternoon of the 30th, made him aware of the capture 

* See map, No. IX. f See map, No. XI. 



I02 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

of Vandamme, and the dispersion of his Army Corps. 




He had been sent up through Konigisten and Ftma 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). IO3 

to endeavour to cut off the retreat of the Allies. It is 
alleged that when the Emperor returned to Dresden 
he gave an order for three divisions of the Young 
Guard to support the isolated Corps. It was then, 
however, too late, for after two days' fighting, Van- 
damme, held in front by General Osterman and 12,000 
Russians, was taken in rear by the Allies retreating 
after the battle of Dresden, with the result that he, 
Generals Haxo and Guyot were taken prisoners, 
with 7000 of all other ranks, 3000 being killed. 
Thirty guns fell into the hands of the Allies, the 
remainder of the French Corps dispersing. 

During the month of September the position of 
Napoleon on the Elbe was like that of a stag at 
bay, when surrounded by adversaries who advance 
and retire alternately as the still formidable antago- 
nist changes his front. Both Blucher, at the head 
of the Prussians, and Schwarzenberg, at the head 
of the Austrians and Russians, came forward in turn, 
and then retreated as Napoleon took thq offensive 
against each successively. Moreover, General Ney, 
who had replaced Oudinot, was heavily defeated by 
Bernadotte at Dennewitz on the 6th September, and 
retreated to Torgau, after losing 13,000 men, several 
" Eagles," and cannons. 

The Allies now determined to unite the armies 
of Blucher and Bernadotte, and to advance on 
Leipsic from the Northward, while the Austrians and 
Russians moved by the Chemnitz road to the same 
point. On the 23rd September, a reinforcement of 
50,000 Russians having arrived from Poland, the 
movement was commenced. Napoleon then marched 
against Blucher, but he failed to check the enemy's 
advance, and on the 12th October, having been 



IC4 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

deserted by the Bavarians, and hearing of Schwar- 
zenberg's successful movement from Chemnitz, the 
Emperor countermarched his troops to Leipsic. 

It was not, however, without great reluctance that 
he reh'nquished his intention of reoccupying Berlin. 
Caulaincourt, in his " Recollections,** writes : " When 
the intentions of the Emperor to cross the Elbe and 
carry the war into Prussia became known, there was 
a general explosion of murmurs in the army. The 
Staff came in a body to the Emperor to supplicate 
him to abandon his projects on Berlin, and march 
on Leipsic.*' Napoleon was unconvinced by their 
arguments ; but realizing that he was almost the only 
individual in the whole army who wished to continue 
the campaign, he yielded, though against his own 
convictions, and gave up his plan, which he still 
thought offered the best chance of success. 

Before I endeavour to describe what took place 
on the 1 6th October, it may be well to recall the 
state, both moral and physical, of the contending 
forces. The Allies were by this time well equipped 
and provisioned by help of English subsidies, granted 
to the extent of over five millions sterling. They 
suffered, indeed, from the divided command, the 
inconveniences of which were considerable, notwith- 
standing that Prince Schwarzenberg held the position 
of Commander-in-chief of the whole forces. On the 
other hand, all their troops were well clothed and fed, 
animated by the best military spirit, and the desire 
to drive the French back across the Rhine. 

Napoleon's troops, on the contrary, were harassed 
by incessant marches and countermarches, while 
neither he nor his Headquarter Staff made any 
attempt to ration either men or horses, excepting 



1813.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 105 

those of the Imperial Guard. Even in this favoured 
force the continuous movements in the months of 
August and September deprived the soldiers of the 
advantages they had hitherto enjoyed, for it was im- 
possible for the Commissariat to keep them supplied. 
Except in the Guard, each Army Corps commander 
was held responsible for the feeding of his soldiers, 
and this system, although wasteful, is practicable when 
troops are marching continuously forward through a 
rich and populous country. For many months 
however, Saxony had been overrun by its Allies 
and enemies, and, as the French troops were seldom 
rationed, not only were dreadful excesses committed, 
but many suffered from absolute starvation. Want 
of food, and the scenes of pillage which resulted 
therefrom, gradually broke down the discipline of 
the army. Even under the windows of the houses 
where Napoleon was lodged the troops tore down 
window-shutters and doors for their bivouac fires, 
and the expression, " the fortune of war," was taken 
to excuse every sort of outrage. Great as were the 
sufferings of the Rank and File in the months of 
August and September, they were intensified as the 
country became still more impoverished, and the 
weather became inclement. 

The misery inflicted on the friendly inhabitants 
of the country passes beyond description. For the 
immediate headquarters of the Emperor Napoleon, 
all supplies were paid for in cash ; but this good 
example was not followed by several of the Marshals 
commanding Army Corps, whose conduct in living 
by " Requisition " provoked comment, not only from 
the inhabitants, but also amongst the French officers 
themselves. All the towns around the city of 



I06 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

Dresden had been exhausted by the numbers of 
men and horses, which for months had been living 
. on the country. Napoleon endeavoured, indeed, to 
procure subsistence for the sick and wounded in the 
hospitals, but only a small percentage of the supplies 
which he ordered up from France actually reached 
those for whom they were intended, and thus starva- 
tion had to be faced both by the sick and wounded, 
who were in need of every comfort to prolong their 
lives, as well as by the soldiers who were still with the 
Colours. An eye-witness, D'Odeleben, mentions that 
the small town of Pirna, then containing less than 
4000 inhabitants, and which had been occupied by 
the contending forces alternately for many weeks, 
was ordered by the French Staff, in the latter part 
of September, to furnish 6000 rations daily. 

It is doubtful whether the French troops quartered 
in Dresden, or those billeted in the surrounding 
villages, underwent the greater privations. In the 
country a two-roomed cottage for one family had 
generally a company, approximately lOO men, allotted 
to it. The city contained 15,000 men in hospitals, 
and its sanitary condition may be imagined from 
the statement quoted by Sir Archibald Alison, that 
in the six months from 15th June to the 15th 
November, '5,062,000 soldiers were billeted in the 
city and its suburbs, i,e. passed one night in it. This 
enormous number is accounted for by the frequent 
passage of the large armies through its gates. 

The soldiers exposed to the elements seized on every- 
thing which they could convert into firewood ; thus 
all the wooden houses were pulled down, the timber 
was taken from the roofs of the stone buildings, the 
crucifixes in the vineyards, on the cross roads, and 



' « 



l8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). IO7 

in the cemeteries, were utilized for the same purpose, 
and even coffins were dug up to serve for the bivouac 
fires, their ghastly contents being scattered around. 
The asylum near Pirna was evacuated to be trans- 
formed into a fort, and the unfortunate lunatics were 
dispersed without any arrangements being made for 
their preservation. 

All this misery acted and reacted on the French 
troops. None of the Corps, with the exception of 
the Imperial Guard, any longer greeted the Emperor 
with the enthusiastic shouts with which his approach 
had been acclaimed in previous campaigns. Disci- 
pline, in the proper sense of the term, ceased to exist, 
and although the Emperor issued the most stringent 
orders to prevent the universal pillage which was 
being carried on, directing that marauders, when 
taken, should be "decimated," yet the evil had gone 
too far to be arrested by even such drastic measures. 
It may be accepted as an undoubted fact that the 
provisioning of armies by means of cash payments 
is, irrespective of any question of Right or Wrong, 
by far the cheapest and most effectual means of 
providing them with food. 

I have dwelt on the state of the troops generally, 
because what affected the infantry, affected similarly 
the Arm of the service with which I am immediately 
concerned. Even the most highly trained horsemen 
become useless if their steeds are insufficiently 
nourished, and to supply sufficient provender had for 
a long time been impossible. D'Odeleben mentions 
that there was not a vestige of forage obtainable for 
the horses around Dresden in the latter part of 
September ; stackyards had been cleared out, and the 
cavalry could only be fed by spreading it far and wide. 



I08 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6. 

It IS clear, moreover, that the Mounted branches 
of the Service had never been properly reorganized 
since the disaster of 1812 (Russia), which practically- 
annihilated this Arm. Throughout the campaign of 
1 81 3 we find the same complaints. Napoleon one 
day reproached General Sebastiani for allowing his 
men to become a rabble. Sebastiani had the courage 
to flatly contradict the Emperor, and point out that 
the expression was unjust, in that it was impossible to 
have an efficient cavalry force when neither men nor 
horses received rations. Apart, however, from this 
essential condition of efficiency, we have Marmont's 
own description of the want of training of his 
mounted troops ; and, indeed, when we consider that 
their numbers had been increased, between the date 
of the battle of Lutzen, in May, and those fought in 
October, from zero to 76,000, we shall realize the 
justice of his observations. 

The Marshal writes : ** I was joined by General 
Latour-Maubourg and his cavalry, but, being quite 
raw and uninstructed, they were of no use ; " and 
again, somewhat later, he writes : " The cavalry has 
never really been got together." It is easy to explain 
why it should have been so. The best horsemasters — 
and Frenchmen, with all their military instincts, 
cannot be reckoned amongst the best — would have 
failed to accomplish in five months of successive 
marching and counter-marching, what we all now 
believe requires three years with careful instructors ; 
but such teachers were not available. There were 
very few squadron leaders of experience remaining, 
and the young subalterns brought from the dep6ts 
were totally incapable of training either men or horses. 
It thus came about that this Arm of the service could 



l8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). IO9 

only be used in masses, under the direction of tried 
and capable generals. I gather that regiments 
seldom, or never, deployed, in our sense of the word, 
and certainly in many cases, as at Wachau, they 
charged in quarter column.* Napoleon had done 
everything he could accomplish as regards supplying 
equipment New saddlery had been obtained, but 
there was never sufficient time to fit it, and sore backs 
were of common occurrence. One officer who served 
in the campaign declares it was possible, by the smell 
of festered sores, to tell when a body of approaching 
cavalry was a newly formed corps. As a German 
writer, D*Odeleben, who is praised by the French for 
his impartiality, observes : " Napoleon did wonders 
by appealing to the honour, and love of country, of 
the young soldiers, who responded courageously in 
carrying out his orders on the battle-field, but it was 
impossible to appeal either to the vanity, or desire 
for glory, of the unfortunate horses," which were no 
sooner requisitioned from the farmers of Saxony and 
brought into the ranks than they were called upoii 
to carry their riders in a charge. 

Moreover, the Emperor's capacity in this campaign 
had begun to fail, and, like other men under overwhelm- 
ing misfortune, he had lost confidence in his own 
judgment. He now sought counsel from some of the 
Marshals who had gone through so many campaigns 
with him. One conversation he had with Marmont 
lasted more than five hours ; beginning at 1 1 p.m., 
it was continued till breakfast was served, at 6 o'clock 
the following morning. The Emperor's habits were 

 " Quarter column *' — a formation in which squadrons were placed 
on parallel and successive alignments, at a distance from each other 
equal to one-fourth of their frontage. 



no ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

formed entirely for his own convenience, and without 
any consideration for the health of his subordinates. 
After a march, as soon as a house or tent was prepared 
for him, he would go to bed frequently at six or seven 
in the evening, with orders to be awakened when 
the reports of the day's proceedings were receivedt 
These were generally brought in between 9 and 1 1 
p.m., when he would send for one or more of the 
Marshals quartered near him, and keep them up for 
many hours discussing plans for the future. 

During the night of the I4th-isth October, he 
called into his room at Reudnitz — a village two 
miles to the Southward of Leipsic — Berthier, Murat, 
Marmont, and several other generals, and leaning 
against the stove in the middle of the room, had a 
long and interesting conversation with them. He 
was urging the adoption of two ranks * for infantry, 
in order that he might impose on the enemy as to 
his available numbers. During this conversation 
Marshal Augereau entered the room, having just 
arrived, after making a forced march. " Ah ! here you 
are at last, my old Augereau 1 " the Emperor cried ; 
and then went on to say, " But you are no longer the 
Augereau of Castiglione ! " f "Yes I am," replied 
the Marshal. "You will find I am just the same 
Augereau I was at Castiglione if you will give me 
the same sort of soldiers I led in Italy." 

Napoleon then observed, but without irritation, 
that every one around him had " slacked off" (to use 

* On the Continent the ranks in the companies up to that date 
stood three deep ; but on the i8th October the two-deep formation was 
adopted. 

t The Emperor alluded to the brilliant victory won on the 5th 
August, 1796, by the Marshal, who defeated the Austrian army, com- 
manded by General Wurmser, inflicting on it great loss. 



1813] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). Ill 

a Naval term) ; and he ran through a series of names, 
including those of his brothers, down to Murat, finish- 
ing up his arguments, as he eventually left the room, 
by bidding his companions an iaffectionate "good 
night," and warning them that they would have to 
fight hard on the morrow. The Emperor realized 
that his Marshals were no longer animated by the 
same desire to fight as formerly, while they, on their 
part, could not but be painfully aware that he had 
expended the manhood of France, and was no longer 
the same Soldier that he had proved himself to be 
when, as First Consul, he led small armies to victory 
in Italy. 

The outlook for the morrow was not promising. 
Marches and counter-marches, and the combats of 
the previous week, had rendered 20,000 men non- 
effective ; there were 30,000 locked up in Dresden, 
and the 360,000 available in Germany, two months 
earlier, had sunk to about half that number. It is 
difficult to state accurately the numbers of the 
opposing armies. Vaudoncourt gives them as 349,000 
Allies, of whom 54,000 were horsemen ; and 1 56,000 
under Napoleon's command, of whom 23,000 were 
cavalry soldiers. 

There were on the i6th October two distinct 
battles, one fought at Mockern, three miles North of 
Leipsic, and the other at Wachau, three miles South 
of the city, and minor engagements at Connewitz and 
Lindenau, to the Westward, on the Pleisse river. 
This peculiar situation arose from the Allies closing 
round the French forces, much in the same manner 
as happened fifty-seven years later at Sedan. 

Colonel Aster, to whose account * of the details 

 "Die Gefechte und Schlacten bei Leipsic,'^ 1813. 



1 1 2 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

I am greatly indebted, divides the battle of the i6th 
at Wachau into four different periods ; but the inci- 
dents which I have to narrate occurred in the second 
and third periods, Le, between 1 1 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

Description of Ground^ — The rivers Elster and 
Pleisse, which flow, for many miles from their 
sources, only a short distance apart, until they run 
into the Saale, form a peculiar feature in the ground 
to the South and West of Leipsic. A traveller going 
Southwards from that city, sees a succession of undu- 
lating hills, rising one above the other as far as the 
Galgenberg (Gallows Hill), which is situated about 
midway between Liebertwolkwitz and Wachau. There 
is not sufficient difference in the height of any of the 
hills to afford a distant view, and thus Napoleon, 
when attacking Gossa, soon after 3 p.m., was unable 
to see the Russian Reserves coming up. The highest 
parts of the hills vary from 30 to 150 feet above the 
level of the river, the culminating ridge running 
from East to West, and the undulating crests being 
separated by intervening hollows. From Liebert- 
wolkwitz, extending down to Mark-Kleeberg on the 
Pleisse, there is a marked, though slight, depression 
of the ground, draining the surrounding country 
towards the river. This gentle valley, which separated 
the opposing forces on the morning of the i6th 
October, was the scene of terrible slaughter for many 
hours, as the combatants passed and repassed through 
it with alternating success. The slopes of the hills are 
generally gentle, 6 degrees being an average gradient, 
but in one or two places there are slopes of from 
10 to IS degrees. The intervening depressions of 
the ground were dotted with underwood and timber, 

* See map at end of chapter. 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). II3 

the valleys being deepest towards the Pleisse. In 
18 1 3 there were pools in many of these hollows, 
drained either naturally or artificially by ditches 
running down to the river. Around the pools, which 
in most cases have since been drained, the meadow 
land was generally swampy, and after heavy rain barely 
passable for infantry, and impassable for mounted men. 
The soil over which the cavalry of my tale worked 
is loam and clay, and was therefore very slippery and 
difficult of foothold after the constant wet weather 
of the preceding month. The two main roads running 
to Grimma and Borna were metalled, the others 
being mere cart-tracks. In the bottoms of the valleys 
numerous ditches, although of no great depth, impeded 
cavalry. The rivers Pleisse and Elster, although not 
broad, were deep, and so muddy at the bottom as 
to render them practically unfordable for mounted 
troops. The villages, churches, cemeteries, and farms, 
all favoured defensive tactics, and were used with 
great advantage by the Allied troops. The ground 
is more open and favourable for cavalry to the East 
of Liebertwolkwitz, and the " University wood," but 
the operations there do not affect the story of that 
part of the battle to which my selected incidents 
belong. 

The Emperor Napoleon had intended to take the 
initiative and attack the Allies at 7 a.m. ; indeed, he 
himself mounted his horse near the sheep-farm of 
Meusdorf soon after daylight. The orders which he 
had issued late over-night had not, however, been 
sent out in time to enable his troops to reach their 
assigned positions, and as my narrative is primarily 
connected with the operations of cavalry, which took 

I 



1 14 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

place in the forenoon and afternoon, to the Westward 
of the University wood, it will be sufficient for my 
purpose if I state generally the positions occupied 
by the French at 1 1 a.m., as between 9 and 1 1 a.m. 
the infantry were only getting into the positions they 
held during the charges of cavalry. 

The 8th Army Corps, commanded by Poniatowski, 
stood, at II a.m., between Mark Kleeberg and 
Connewitz ; the 9th (Augereau), to the South-east 
of Dosen, facing towards Wachau ; the 4th and Sth 
cavalry Corps (Letort and Pajol), a little to the 
East of the 9th Army Corps ; the 2nd Army Corps 
(Victor), to the North of Wachau ; the 5th (Lauris- 
ton), between Wachau and Liebertwolkwitz ; the nth 
(Macdonald) came, somewhat later, into position on 
the left of the 5th Corps ; the 2nd cavalry Corps 
was still on the march towards Klein Fosnau ; 
the 1st cavalry Corps (Latour-Maubourg), having 
marched, at 7 a.m., from Schoenfield, about 10 miles, 
after its arrival stood to the North of Wachau ; the 
Guards, both cavalry and infantry, were about 
Meusdorf, except that the 3rd and 4th divisions of 
the Young Guard were, at 11 a.m., advancing towards 
Wachau. 

The Emperor had hoped Ney might be able to 
send him the 3rd and 6th Army Corps, but this 
became impossible, as Marmont's Corps was required 
for the fight at Mockern, and the 3rd (Souham's), 
which Ney sent to help Napoleon, spent the day 
marching between the two battle-fields, and was 
therefore never utilized. 

While the French troops were still on the march, 
at 9 o'clock, the Allies commenced the attack. Frince 
Schwarzenberg's dispositions were faulty, inasmuch as 



i8l3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). II5 

he had arranged to operate with the Austrians between 
the rivers Pleisse and Elster, where no decisive result 
could have been obtained. The Prussian and Russian 
troops, already in position at 9 o'clock, under General 
Count Wittgenstein, were formed into four columns 
between Fuchshain on the East, and Grobern on the 
West. Count Pahlen, with 3C00 cavalry, mainly 
Russian, was posted between the University wood 
and Guldengossa; and behind the extreme left of 
the Prussian infantry, under General Kleit, stood 
LewachofFs Russian Cuirassier brigade, and the 
Lubno regiment of Hussars. These troopers were 
the first to obtain some success over the French, as 
I shall presently describe. 

The Monarchs in command of the opposing armies 
took up their positions at 9 o'clock. Napoleon on the 
J, Galgenberg, and the Allied Sovereigns on the hill 

mid-way between Gohren and Guldengossa, protected 
by an escort of the regiment of the " Red Cossacks 
of the Guard " formed up under cover to the South of 
the hill. The Allied column, commanded by Prince 
Eugene of Wurtemberg, attacking Wachau, covered 
by the fire of 48 guns, had at first some success, and 
seized that village ; but the assailants were over- 
whelmed by the projectiles of 60 guns, which Napoleon 
had caused to be placed on the Galgenberg ridge. 
These batteries, subsequently increased to lOO guns, 
and later in the day to 150, poured forth such a 
terrible fire on the village and the batteries near it, 
that 22 guns were immediately dismounted, and the 
Allied infantry, breaking, fled in confusion. 

Two battalions of Prussians re-entered Wachau 
about 9.30, and later Klenau's Prussians and Gorts- 
chakofFs Russians seized Liebertwolkwitz ; but neither 



Il6 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

of these columns could remain in the villages under 
the destructive fire of Druot's guns. The latter village 
was stormed six times, but remained in the hands of 
the French, although the struggle was continued up 
to II am. with varying success ; from that hour, till 
after 3 o'clock, the battle ceased between Wachau 
and Liebertwolkwitz. The Allies were, however, 
more successful in their attack on Mark Kleeberg. 
The French at first successfully defended the village, 
but when a battalion of Austrian infantry crossed the 
Pleisse, a little to the North of it, the French fell 
back, taking shelter under some oak trees immediately 
to the North-east of the hamlet. A regiment of Polish 
cavalry now caught the pursuing infantry in flank, 
and made many prisoners ; and the French infantry, 
thus encouraged, retook the village. 

Soon afterwards, the Prussian infantry obtained 
possession of the low ground immediately East of 
Mark Kleeberg, whence they opened fire on the French 
artillery in its main position. While this attack was 
going on, a Russian column advanced and drove the 
French infantry from the water meadows lying 
between Wachau and Mark Kleeberg, but then, 
coming under the fire of Druofs guns, suffered 
severely. There was now a broad gap between the 
third and fourth columns of the Allies, and the danger 
appeared so imminent that the Emperor Alexander 
ordered the 3rd division of Cuirassiers, under General 
Duca, to Magdeborn, and sent to Schwarzenberg to 
urge him to divert the Austrian troops, operating 
between the two rivers, to the Eastward in support 
of the Prussian and Russian columns. 

I pass over the operations of the columns which 
attacked Liebertwolkwitz, and will content myself 



1813.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). II7 

with stating the result. After several hours' furious 
fighting, the French held their own ; and it became 
apparent to the commanders on both sides that, unless 
the Allies could, be reinforced, they must be defeated. 

The Staff officer sent by the Emperor of Russia 
reached Prince Schwarzenberg at Gautzsch about 
10.30 a.m. ; but it is doubtful whether he would even 
then have given up his own plan had he not been 
urged by his Chief of the Staff, and, indeed, all the 
officers around him, to go to the assistance of the 
Russians. Eventually the Commander-in-Chief de- 
cided to turn the heads of his Austrian columns 
Eastwards, and he ordered that a passage over the 
Pleisse should be forced at Dolitz, while two divisions, 
followed by the Reserve, should cross at Grobem ; 
and he sent orders to General Count Nostitz to move 
his cavalry division in advance of the infantry over 
the same bridges. 

Meanwhile the Allied Sovereigns, recognizing the 
critical state of affairs in their front, had ordered up 
all available cavalry to hold the ground between 
Guldengossa and Magdeborn, as also all the available 
Prussian and Russian reserves. 

I stated above that the French, encouraged by the 
charges of the Polish brigade 4th cavalry Corps, had 
recaptured the Northern portion of Mark Kleeberg ; 
but the squadrons, coming under heavy artillery and 
infantry fire, eventually fell back. This induced a 
fresh advance of Prussian infantry, and the French, 
when retiring, were obliged to leave a battery on the 
ground, all the horses having been killed. The 
forward movement of the Prussian infantry led to 
repeated charges and counter-charges of cavalry, for 
the Polish Lancers, who were supported by French 



Il8 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

squadrons, made three separate attacks, and when 
riding at the infantry were met by the regiment of 
Russian Hussars. The Prussian infantry got into 
squares, and managed to beat off both the Polish and 
French cavalry. The Russian horsemen, although 
inferior in numbers, devoted themselves freely in 
support of the infantry of their Allies. 

General Lewachoffs Cliarge. — While this struggle 
was going on, General Lewachoif approached with 
the 6th Cuirassier brigade. His task was difficult. 
Two French battalions stood in squares near the edge 
of the higher ground. A shower of projectiles from 
Druot's guns in position on the Galgenberg fell on 
the right flank of the Cuirassiers, while further back 
stood a part of the 4th French cavalry Corps. Lewa- 
choff crossed the intervening hollow ground, and, 
forming up on the far side, made two separate attacks 
on Milhaud's division of cavalry, and Poniatowski's 
infantry. Lewachoff pushed home his charge, how- 
ever, in spite of all opposition ; and it is said that 
many of the infantry had their hands cut off at the 
wrists, while holding their muskets at the "head 
parry." Riding steadily on, the Russians came on 
20 French cannons between the "Wine Pond" and 
Dosen. The drivers had disappeared with the limbers, 
and the guns were found entirely deserted. The 
Emperor Napoleon himself had to ride back North- 
wards to escape being captured. A division of infantry 
of the Guard, the 2nd brigade of the cavalry of the 
Guard, and Bercheim's mixed cavalry brigade, were 
now sent to the assistance of the 4th cavalry Corps, 
Lewachoff, then reforming his squadrons, though 
suffering heavy losses, retired, in as good order as 
if engaged in a " peace " manoeuvre, across the hollow 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). II9 

ground. The opposing forces now drew back to 
either crest overlooking the valley, while the artillery 
continued their duel. 

Meanwhile the fight was proceeding on the Eastern 
side of the battle-field. Between 11 a.m. and noon 
General Macdonald, with the nth Army Corps, 
pushed back Klenau's Corps of Austrians, and cap- 
tured some guns on the Kolmberg, from which 
position the Austrian artillery retired hurriedly. This 
success enabled Napoleon to advance his Centre, 
which, preceded by Druot's guns, at that hour 84 in 
number, formed in one grand battery, gradually 
gained ground Southwards, and about 2 p.m. it 
became obvious that a heavy attack on the Allied 
position between the Auenhein sheep-farm and 
Guldengossa was imminent. It was at this time that 
the Saxon Cuirassier brigade (von Zastrow), which 
till now had been standing to the North of Wachau 
under heavy artillery fire from Gortschakoffs and 
the Duke of Wiirtemberg's guns, was sent to join 
Bercheim's cavalry brigade near Dosen. The Cuiras- 
siers, in order to avoid the abandoned French battery 
mentioned above, passed close to the village, and 
proceeding on about 400 yards, they had just 
deployed on the edge of the higher ground on which 
the French stood when they were called into action, 
as I shall show presently. 

Charge of t/ie /[th (French) Cavalry Corps. — General 
Letort,* with the 4th cavalry Corps, composed of 
a division of Polish cavalry and the Dragoons of the 
Guard, had been reinforced by a part of the 5th 
cavalry Corps, and supported by lines of infantry 
formed in battalion squares, was, at this hour — i,e, 

* General Kellerman, its commander, was sick. 



I20 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

2 p.m. — following up the retreating Prussian squares 
with the intention of overwhelming them, and of 
attacking the two divisions of the Russian Grenadier 
Guards, which were formed in a line of columns 
behind the Auenhein sheep-farm and Guldengossa^ 
the line of columns being extended Eastwards of that 
point towards the University wood. 

Charge of the Austrian Cuirassier Division under 
General Count Nostitz. — I must now return to the 
Austrian side. Three hours previously — ue. about 
1 1 a.m. — General Nostitz received, while at Gautzsch, 
permission from Field-marshal Schwarzenberg to 
move Eastwards, and support the Centre. There was 
great delay in crossing the bridge over the Pleisse 
and in passing through the village of Grobern, and 
though the General, having himself ridden forward, 
saw, from the vicinity of that hamlet, the critical 
condition of the Allies, and sent back orders for his 
regiments to hurry up, it was nevertheless 2 p.m. 
before they came into action. General LewachofTs 
three regiments had just at this time been badly 
defeated. His brigade, proud of its success gained 
in the earlier part of the fight, had gallantly galloped 
at General Letort's heavy masses of cavalry in order 
to arrest their onward march. The conflict, however, 
was too unequal to render success possible, and the 
brave Russian Cuirassiers were hustled back towards 
Giildengossa, their retreat being harassed by the fire 
of the long line of batteries, for on the French position 
there were now 300 guns in action. It was at this 
moment that the leading squadrons of Count Nostitz' 
division came on the ground. It was composed of 
7 superb regiments of steel-clad Cuirassiers, numbering 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 121 

36 squadrons, but had only one Horse battery with 
it, as the other two had been left on the We'stern side 
of the Pleisse. 

The greater portion of the division headed directly 
Eastward, while the Sommariva regiment (Cuirassiers) 
turned Northwards towards Mark Kleeberg. As the 
mass of horsemen emerged from Grobern, trotting on 
without any advanced guard, the head of the column 
rode into a crowd of Russian cavalry and infantry 
retreating in disorder before the 4th French cavalry 
Corps, and consequently the two leading squadrons of 
the Archduke Albrecht's regiment were carried away 
in the rush of men and horses hurrying Southwards. 
The rear wing of the regiment, however, got close up 
to the French cavalry before it was noticed, and then 
the hesitation which ensued on the part of the foe, 
when this movement on the flank was perceived, gave 
time to the second regiment—/^, the Lothringen — to 
deploy. It immediately afterwards closed with the 
front of the French dragoons of the Guard, and on 
the flank of a regiment of Polish cavalry. Into the 
front ranks of this latter the rear wing of the Archduke 
Albrecht's regiment, led by General Count Nostitz, 
who was wounded in the encounter, charged at the 
same moment. The 4th French cavalry Corps, thus 
assailed in front and flank, was routed, and falling 
backin disorder to the North of Wachau, was followed 
up by the Lothringen Cuirassiers, until they reached 
the Young Guard, some of whom were ridden down. 
Now, however, more French cavalry appeared, and 
the Lothringen Cuirassiers, attacked in front and 
flank by horsemen, and assailed from behind by the 
fire of infantry from Wachau, and also from others 
posted in a hoUow road near the village, turned, and 



122 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

were driven Southwards, being pursued by the French 
squadrons across the valley and up the Southern 
slope of ground. Again the scene changed, for the 
Austrian brigade Taxis here came into action, and in 
its turn drove back the pursuing French regiments. 
There were now several attacks and counter-attacks 
delivered, but the Austrian squadrons, being strongly 
reinforced, eventually hurled back the 4th Corps, and 
held it for several hours to the Northward of Wachau. 
I will now relate what happened to the Som- 
mariva Cuirassiers, who, having cleared the bridge 
at Grobern, "changed direction" to the left, and 
moved Northwards towards Mark Kleeberg. As they 
approached the village they were led by their colonel, 
von Auserwald, against a regiment of the 4th French 
cavalry Corps. This was pushed back, and the fight 
on the ground between Mark Kleeberg and Wachau 
now degenerated into a series of squadron encounters, 
with alternating success. In these charges and counter- 
charges, all consideration of Front and Rear was 
ignored, and while part of the French were victorious 
in the front of their line of battle, Austrian squadrons 
were driving back other portions of the 4th cavalry 
Corps far in the rear of the French position. Eventu- 
ally, however, the French lost ground, and this 
in spite of the heroic conduct of their leaders. 
Brigadier-general Bercheim, whose head-dress had 
been knocked off by a sabre cut, leading in front of 
the 2nd brigade of the Guard cavalry, galloped 
bareheaded into the thickest part of the Austrian 
squadrons. These were, however, too strong to be 
successfully assailed, and the gallant general was 
eventually swept away Northwards by a crowd of 
flying horsemen. 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). I23 

The fugitives avoided the village of Dosen, and 
in doing so collided with the advancing Saxon 
Cuirassier regiment (von Zastrow). These squadrons, 
as I mentioned above, had been standing for some 
hours to the North of Liebertwolkwitz, under the 
converging fire of all the guns of Wurtemberg's and 
Gortschakoff's batteries, many of which, being over- 
aimed at Druot's line of cannons, struck down both 
men and horses further back ; but, unshaken by the 
sight of the disaster and the hurried retreat of the 
flying horsemen, the Saxons rode perfectly steady 
in the ranks, opening out only sufficiently to allow 
the fugitives to pass through; and then, closing 
their intervals and increasing the pace, they galloped 
determinedly against the Sommariva Cuirassiers. 
The Austrians shouted to the Saxons to join as 
friends, but the only reply was the command 
"Charge," and the opposing forces collided with 
great force. Both sides fought gallantly for a time, 
but the Saxons, being hopelessly outnumbered, were 
after a time completely routed, and ' at last, turning, 
fled. Friends and foes now galloped Northwards 
in inextricable confusion. A ditch which the Saxon 
squadrons had crossed easily during their advance, 
caused a check, and the Austrians, closing in, slaugh- 
tered a great number of their foes, von Zastrow's 
regiment losing during the day two-thirds of its 
effectives. The pursuit was carried on towards Pros- 
theida, till a French battalion, standing firm by its 
fire, arrested the pursuit. The French cavalry then 
immediately faced about, and captured nearly a 
squadron of the foremost Austrian horsemen. 

This event gave rise to the exhibition of a fine trait 
on the part of a French non-commissioned officer. An 



124 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

impetuous young Saxon prince, serving in the French 
army as a Staff officer, and who had previously dis- 
tinguished himself during the Russian campaigns 
of 1812, being greatly excited by the hand-to-hand 
fight in which he had taken part, struck at an Austrian 
prisoner. A French quartermaster-sergeant at once 
intervened, and, riding up, threatened to cut the 
prince down unless he immediately desisted from 
maltreating an unarmed man. 

The Emperor, who from the vicinity of Druot's 
combined batteries had witnessed the overthrow of 
Letort's cavalry Corps (the 4th), galloped back for 
safety to the Old Guard, which he led forward 
formed in square. All the Austrian squadrons now 
retired to Grobern, which they were obliged to hold 
to enable their infantry to cross over the Pleisse. 
They sat steadily on their horses, though the loss 
inflicted by the French artillery was great, and the 
single battery belonging to Nostitz's division was 
soon destroyed. It does not appear that the other 
two batteries ever got into action. 

While these encounters of cavalry were in progress, 
Victor's Army Corps, and the 3rd and 4th divisions 
of the Young Guard, were struggling bravely, though 
for some time ineffectually, to gain possession of the 
Auenhein sheep-farm building, and the fight of the 
opposing infantry at Mark Kleeberg never ceased. 

Soon after 3 p.m. Napoleon's preparations for 
attacking the centre of the Allied line were com- 
pleted. From the Liebertwolkwitz hill he had clearly 
seen the weak spot in the Allied line, i.e. the intervals 
between Wittgenstein's columns on the ground 
between the University wood, and Giildengossa. This 
was held early in the morning by Count Pahlen's 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 1 25 

cavalry, but the horsemen were now drawn further 
back to the Southward ; for when, about 2 p.m., 
Klenau's attack on the left of the French failed, he 
retired. His retirement obliged Prince Gortschakoff 
to conform ; and before the French advanced for the 
grand attack, undertaken by the ist and part of the 
Sth cavalry Corps, which I am about to describe, 
the Russian infantry had been repulsed, and were 
holding only the edge of the University wood and 
Giildengossa. Count Pahlen, who was keeping up 
the communication between the columns, drew back 
also, and his troops, though not actually engaged 
until nearly 4 o'clock, had been exposed for many 
hours to a heavy fire. 

Latour-Maubourg's Corps, which had been standing 
North of Wachau and Liebertwolkwitz, was now 
joined by a division of the 5th cavalry Corps. The 
5 divisions (4 of Latour-Maubourg's, comprising 10 
Cuirassier regiments, and i of the Dragoons of Spain) 
were formed in lines of columns ; and while Murat, 
escaping untouched, lived to cause, by his thought- 
less courage, the disaster, the two Corps were each 
unfortunate in the loss of their commanders before 
the actual collision took place. 

The cavalry of the Guard was drawn up in rear 
of the 1st Corps, the heads of the columns of which 
were formed upon the rising ground between the 
Galgenberg and the Wachau village, on a frontage 
of 600 yards, facing South-south-west. To cavalry 
officers of the present day such a deep formation must 
appear to be almost impossible ; but we know, from 
the statement of Lieutenant Baron von Firks, of the 
Prussian Field artillery, who was lying wounded on 
the ground South of Wachau, that he counted 10 lines 



1 26 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. 16, 

of columns pass him on this narrow frontage. The 
duty assigned to the French cavalry was, primarily, 
the capture of the great Russian battery in action on 
the rising ground midway between Giildengossa and 
Wachau, and also of a battery of 12 pieces somewhat 
further to the North. Having silenced these pieces, 
they were to attack the Russian infantry, and then, 
pressing on, to break the centre of the Allied position 
near Giildengossa. The Saxon Cuirassier Guards 
were detailed to seize a battery in the hollow imme- 
diately South of Wachau, which was, however, now 
supported by 6 battalions of the division Klux, 
standing in square. 

When we turn for a moment to the Allied side, we 
should note there was an open drain running down 
from Giildengossa towards the Pleisse. The banks of 
the drain were swampy, and thus it was difficult to 
cross it low down, except by the causeways which had 
been made for farm purposes ; but close to Giilden- 
gossa the ditch was so small that it ceased to be 
an obstacle. Besides the Allied batteries, and Klux's 
division, there stood between Auenhein and to the 
North of Giildengossa 12 battalions formed in squares. 
They had suffered terribly from the artillery fire, 
which had been poured on them for many hours, and 
it is stated that many battalions had lost more than 
half their numbers before they were assailed by the 
French cavalry. 

Characteristics of the French Cavalry Generals. — 
Before attempting to describe the incidents attendant 
on the example cited at the head of this chapter, it 
may be well to show how unfortunate the French 
were in the casualties among their leaders, because 



1813] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 12/ 

two men of daring courage, and yet of calm judg- 
ment, having been struck down, the attack passed 
under the sole direction of Murat, whose reckless 
bravery was not balanced by military knowledge, 
or capacity. Accounts differ as to the time at which 
Latour-Maubourg, struck' by a cannon shot, lost his 
leg, some placing it as early as the opening of the 
battle at 9 a.m., and others much later. It is, how- 
ever, certain that he was wounded so early in the 
battle as to prevent his exercising any influence in 
the unfortunate attack made by the ist cavalry 
Corps, which went forward under the command of* 
General Bordesoule. 

General Count Pajol conducted the charge which 
resulted in the temporary capture of the Allies* guns 
immediately to the South of Wachau, and was not 
wounded until after a part of the 5th Corps, under 
his command, had achieved some success, having cap- 
tured the big battery. He then halted his squadrons 
until he could make sure of the nature of the ground 
in front, and on the return of his aide-de-camp, who 
reported that, immediately North of Gossa, the swampy 
meadows rendered the movements of cavalry difficult, 
Pajol spoke to the King of Naples, who then galloped 
away to the Eastward. Prince Murat had only got a 
few yards away when Pajol's horse and its rider were 
struck by a projectile which threw them up several feet 
in the air, Murat being informed of this misfortune, 
then determined that he would lead the cavalry 
himself. How by his reckless bravery he induced 
the disaster I shall endeavour presently to show. 
Count Pajol was succeeded by General Milhaud. 

Murat escaped without a scratch, but only to perish 
miserably two years later in Italy, meeting his fate. 



128 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

however, with the same undaunted courage which 
he had shown during the whole of his brillant service 
under his brother-in-law Napoleon. To give even a 
sketch of his numberless daring acts is impossible in 
this article, but I state briefly an incident which shows 
the nature of his character. 

After an engagement which took place near 
Dresden on the 8th September, in which Napoleon 
drove back the enemy, General Pajol was, at the close 
of the day, following up the foe with a handful of 
cavalry. A squadron of the 14th Hussars was lead- 
ing in the pursuit of the enemy, whose retreat was 
covered by a large body of Prussian cavalry, which 
General Count Pajol was trying to outflank. It 
happened that the Emperor, accompanied by Murat, 
passed by, and Murat, seeing the squadron of the 
14th Hussars, called out that it ought to charge. 
" No," said Napoleon. " Leave Pajol alone ; he knows 
what to do." And the two monarchs rode on. 
Presently, however, Murat came back alone, and 
insisted that the squadron should charge. Pajol 
begged him to wait until two regiments he had 
already put in motion had turned the flank of the 
retreating rear-guard ; but Murat insisted on having 
his own way, and the captain of the squadron was 
ordered to advance, being supported by a company 
of infantry in skirmishing order. As Marshal St. 
Cyr writes : " It is impossible to guess what made 
Murat give such a foolish order, and it appeared that 
he did not know himself," The squadron consisted 
of recruits on remounts ; once extended in a gallop 
they lost all control of their horses, and riding head- 
long into a regiment, were cut to pieces, the captain 
and trumpeter only returning safe. Murat, in order 



i8i3.] WACHAU (near LEIPSIC). 1 29 

to cover up his mistake, and to silence the squadron 
leader, asked for and obtained his promotion. 

But the prince was guilty of a still more unfortunate 
error near Liebertwolkwitz two days before the battle 
of Wachau. He had in hand, when he was attacked 
on the 14th, 5 divisions, 3 French and 2 Polish — one 
of the latter consisting of one brigade only. His 
command was made up of Letort's * (the 4th) cavalry 
Corps, who commanded it temporarily in the absence 
of Kellerman, who was sick, and one division of the 
Sth, led by Pajol, who performed prodigies of valour 
on this occasion, as also in the action near Wachau, 
when he had only a part of his command in hand, 
the remainder being near the river Pleisse. 

The sth Corps was composed of three divisions, 
one of Light cavalry under Subervie, and two of 
Dragoons under UHeritier and Milhaud,the Dragoons 
having gained a great reputation both in Spain and 
in their recent operations against the Prussian partisan 
Corps, which were endeavouring to intercept the 
French communications between the Elbe and the 
Rhine. These two divisions, called the Dragoons of 
Spain, were the only trained cavalry in the French 
army, and, unfortunately, they suffered heavily at the 
hands of the Allied cavalry on the 14th October. 
With these squadrons Murat charged again and 
again in the afternoon, generally at the head of one 
regiment, and sometimes at the head of a single 
squadron, but without any apparent plan of battle. 
Leading himself, with the most reckless courage, he 
incurred great personal risk, and narrowly escaped 

* This officer was mortally wounded on the 15th June, 1815, in 
breaking a square near Gosselies, when, leading 4 squadrons of 
Napoleon's escort, he endeavoured to cut off the retreat of the Prussian 
rear-guard. 

K 



130 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

with his life, being saved only by an orderly follow- 
ing him, who killed a Prussian officer as he was on 
the point of cutting down the prince. 

I will now resume my narrative by describing the 
charge of the ist and 5 th cavalry Corps. The con- 
centration of troops on the Galgenberg indicated 
clearly that an attack was impending, not only to 
the Staff of the Allied Sovereigns on the high ground, 
but also to the Duke of Wurtemberg, who, perceiving 
what was about to occur, sent orders to General Duca, 
then standing to the South-west of Auenhein, to 
bring up the 3rd Russian Cuirassier division ; and to 
General Schwaiwitzsch, who, with the Body-Guard 
Hussars, Dragoons of the Guard, and Lancers of the 
Guard, was standing midway between the Western- 
most pond of the Giildengossa hollow and Grobern, to 
advance those regiments to the support of the infantry. 

The Emperor of Russia, standing on the hill imme- 
diately South of Giildengossa, ordered up his Reserve 
artillery and Guards, but these were too late to prevent 
the capture of the Russian battery North of Giilden- 
gossa, though they assisted later, at least morally, in 
the discomfiture of Murat's squadrons. When the 
prince sounded the advance, as the great body moved 
forward at a slow trot, the earth shook under the 
weight of the horses, and this was the more remarked 
from the guns on both sides having ceased to fire. 
Murat rode in front of, and between, the 5th and the 
1st cavalry Corps, having on his right the Saxon 
Guard cavalry, and on his left a brigade of French 
Cuirassiers formed of the 3rd and 6th regiments. As 
soon as the Saxons brought up their left shoulders to 
attack the battery South of Wachau, Murat led the 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). I3I 

1st Corps, now commanded by Bordesoule. That 
general had, in the first instance, ordered General 
Bessi^res, who commanded a brigade composed of the 
9th, nth, and 12th Cuirassiers, to move to the East- 
ward in echelon with the principal column, and then 
to remain in support 

Bordesoule now sent General Sopranzi to attack 
the great Russian battery of 32 guns. The forma- 
tion of the Saxon Guard cavalry, after going " Left 
Shoulders," was broken by its having to pass through 
a hollow road, and clumps of alder-wood bushes. Its 
movements were also inconvenienced by a battery of 
French Horse artillery, which had preceded the right 
of the cavalry in order to fire on the enemy pre- 
paratory to the attack, and having formed up on a 
slope on the South side of Wachau, was. full in the 
line of advance of the Saxons as they "changed direc- 
tion," and their right squadrons had, in consequence, 
to break off and reform. Although they were then 
moving only at the trot, this enforced increase of 
pace severely tried their steadiness, for the rear of 
the columns had to gallop, and while doing so the 
officer in command of the rear wing of the right 
regiment passed three battalions, but was uncertain 
whether they were friends or foes. The order having 
been given to attack the guns, he disregarded the 
infantry, and this accounts for the statement made 
by General Klux that the cavalry passed by him, 
but did not attack. The Russian artillerymen, for 
the most part, stood up well to their guns, but some 
of the batteries retired before the horsemen reached 
them, and the remainder were captured, in spite of 
a desperate charge made by Russian dragoons, who 
galloped up to assist their countrymen. 



132 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6. 

The Saxon squadrons now broke up, part of them 
going in pursuit of the retiring artillery, several guns 
of which were overtaken. The remainder of the 
Cuirassiers dismounted, and endeavoured to remove 
the captured pieces, which was a difficult task, for 
all the limbers had been driven away with the 
batteries which had retired. The Saxons, however, 
attempted to remove the guns by hand, and, some time 
later, were still thus occupied when Count Pahlen's 
squadrons, having rallied after their defeat by Bes- 
siferes, as described lower down, advanced across the 
rear of Murat's command, and drove the Saxons back. 

The 1st cavalry Corps, after its first advance, bringing 
up its left shoulder, inclined to the Westward, and then 
continued on towards Giildengossa, striking the line 
of battalion squares under command of Prince Eugene 
of Wurtemberg. The Russian infantry regiment 
Crementschuck had been standing 1 50 yards in rear 
of the artillery before the French squadrons came on. 
The 1st battalion was in the act of moving up to 
the batteries when it was caught, ridden down, and 
scattered, just as the whole of the remaining guns 
fell into the hands of the French. The officer com- 
manding the battalion and many men were made 
prisoners, but the 2nd battalion stood firm, and in it 
was saved the Colour of the ist battalion, which a 
Prussian Landwehr cavalry soldier, amidst all the 
confusion, carried to the intact battalion. 

The first of the Allied cavalry to meet this rushing 
mass of horses, was the division under the command 
of General Schwaiwitzsch. He was killed, and the 
next senior officer. General Dawidow, lost both legs 
and an arm immediately afterwards. The division 
was not well handled, possibly from the loss of its 



i8i3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 1 33 

leaders. The flanks, galloping at speed, closed with 
the enemy before the centre, and the French, riding 
steadily on, repulsed the Russians. Then a dragoon 
regiment of General Duca's division, which was sup- 
ported by some squadrons of lancers, attempted to 
check the attack. The dragoons were overwhelmed, 
many were killed, some were driven into the open 
drain, across which others . escaped. The Lancers 
retired at the gallop towards Auenhein. The whole 
of the line of Russo-Prussian squares was now sur- 
rounded by crowds of French horsemen, and while 
the centre of the mass halted, the right flank 
squadrons spread over the ground far to the rear, but 
the surviving Allied infantry, nevertheless, remained 
erect and defiant. 

When Murat, resuming the advance, left the cap- 
tured guns, he rapidly increased the pace. He was 
well mounted, but the horses of those following him 
were exhausted by the previous hard work on very 
scanty rations. Latour-Maubourg's Corps had been 
manoeuvring for some days under the orders of Murat, 
so as to support either of the French Army Corps 
which might be the most menaced by the concentric 
march of the Allies, and, as I showed above, only just 
reached Wachau in time for the battle. The horses 
were, therefore, in no condition for a prolonged gallop 
over heavy ground, and thus not only were regiments 
separated, the rear being unable to keep up, but 
individuals lost their places in the squadrons. Many 
horses fell in the shallow ditches ; others, struck down 
by artillery fire, which had now been reopened, formed 
obstacles over which those coming on in rear fell, and 
thus the difficulties of the advance were constantly 
increasing. While the foremost horsemen, led by 



1 34 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 

Murat, were galloping wildly on, Count Pahlen 
ordered forward lO squadrons of the Light cavalry 
of the Guard to the support of Wurtemberg's corps. 
General Bordesoule, seeing this advance, sent an 
order to General Bessi^res to hold two regiments in 
reserve, and to let one charge the Russian squadrons. 
Bessi^res, however, attacked with his whole brigade, 
and was at first brilliantly successful. He rode over 
Pahlen's squadrons, and then following in pursuit, 
and bringing up his left shoulder, got to within half a 
mile of the position where stood the Allied Sove- 
reigns. Between the monarchs and the disordered 
but triumphant French Cuirassiers there was only the 
obstacle of a ditch, which, although impassable except 
by causeways lower down, was insignificant in size 
close to Giildengossa. 

As Bessi^res' Cuirassiers followed the retreating 
Russian cavalry down the slope towards Giildengossa 
they caught sight of the Allied Staff on the hill above 
them, and had they been able to preserve their for- 
mation, they might possibly have made the brilliant 
capture of two Emperors and a King. At this time 
the Cossacks of the Guard, under Colonel Yefreimov, 
with a battery of Horse artillery, were standing dis- 
mounted under the Southern slope of the hill occupied 
by the Allied Sovereigns. The Emperor now — 
apparently prompted by some one, for the order 
was given immediately on the receipt of a written 
note which was brought by a Staff officer — ordered his 
Body Guard to mount and proceed with the Horse 
battery across the dam to attack the enemy. The 
Prussian Guards and Russian Reserves were then 
in sight, coming up behind, but still too far off to 
stop Murat's attack. Great numbers of the French 



i8c3.] WACHAU (NEAR LEIPSIC). 1 35 

horsemen were falling in the ditch, but some, passing 
through Giildengossa, were coming on at the gallop. 
Meanwhile the front of the mass of French horsemen, 
rapidly growing denser near the two ponds to the 
West of Giildengossa as those in rear closed up, 
became noisy, and then unsteady on hearing the 
sound of fighting on the flanks and in rear. Some 
horsemen turned to retire, while others wished to 
advance, and thus all got in confusion. Prince 
Schwarzenberg, having begged the Allied Sovereigns 
to retire, which they did at a rapid pace towards the 
approaching Reserves, drew his sword and galloped 
off towards the struggling combatants. 

The Cossacks had to move in single file through 
some infantry, but, covered by the undulations of the 
ground, they reached the Gossa ditch before they 
were noticed by the excited Frenchmen. There the 
battery was brought into action, for Count Orlow 
Denisow, who, as Colonel-in- Chief of the Red Cos- 
sacks, accompanied the Body-Guard, decided it was 
too hazardous to send it in amongst the French horse- 
men, and he ordered the cavalry to cross alone. The 
regiment had been joined by scattered detachments, 
and passing over one of the dams, on a small frontage, 
the Cossacks galloped at speed, with their lances 
down, into the front ranks of the French. Borde- 
soules squadrons, some 5000 horsemen, which had 
advanced on a breadth of less than half a mile, and 
had while moving brought up their left shoulders^ were 
now in a confused mass spread out over i^ miles 
from East to West, and a mile from Front to Rear. 

Just at this time, when Colonel Yefreimov was 
bearing down all in the immediate front of the 
French mass, General Duca appeared behind the 



136 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. 16, 

French. Prince Eugene, placing himself at the head 
of a cavalry brigade, led it forward on the right 
rear. The rearmost French squadrons repulsed 
both these attacks, and scattered in pursuit of their 
retreating foes. Meanwhile, Count Pahlen's cavalry 
had been again collected ; and they attacked the left 
of the French cavalry, while the Cossacks were carry- 
ing all before them close to Giildengossa. Pahlen's ist 
regiment was, however, overthrown, for, getting be- 
tween two lines of French cavalry, it was overpowered 
and dispersed. Colonel von Hake, commanding the 
Silesian Cuirassiers regiment, now charged, and, being 
followed by a number of Allied cavalry, who had 
rallied after being previously defeated, drove back 
Bordesoule*s men. Hake himself held his regiment 
well together, and followed up at a walk ; but those 
who had joined him on either flank galloped wildly 
on after the enemy. 

The French, having no further supports in hand, 
were forced slowly back. The Horse artillery battery, 
which had moved forward on the right of the 5 th 
Corps, now fired on friends and foes alike, in order to 
check the Allied advance. General Druot's guns also 
opened fire on the crowd as it surged Northwards. 

Meanwhile, the Cossacks were cleaving their way 
into the mass of foes. On fresh horses, and with 
long lances, they were more than a match for the 
Cuirassiers on their exhausted steeds ; and these were 
chased back through the intervals of the diminished, 
but still intact, Russian battalions, the Cossacks 
retaking the great battery of captured guns. The 
charge of the Body-Guard was materially aided, first 
by the fire of a second Horse artillery battery, which 
came into action immediately South of the Gossa drain 



i8i3.] WACHAU (near LEIPSIC). 137 

alongside its own battery, and later by more artillery, 
which came into action immediately South of the 
GUldengossa Westernmost pond. As the French 
fought again on the i8th of October, and the daily 
casualties were not recorded, it is impossible to tell 
exactly the extent of their loss on the 1 6th, but it 
must have been great. 

At the time that the French cavalry were retreat- 
ing Northwards, the division of Raeffky's Grenadiers 
retook Auenhein from Victor's troops ; and from this 
moment the tide of victory, flowing strongly, bore the 
Allies forward. General Bianchi, having brought up a 
division of Austrians, assaulted so vigorously the 
right flank of Augereau's Corps that he was obliged 
to give ground, and the Emperor himself was forced 
to ride hastily back to seek safety with the Old Guard. 

At this moment several orderly officers arrived in 
quick succession from Generals Marmont and Ney, 
who were greatly outnumbered to the North of 
Leipsic, begging for support to enable them to resist 
Prince Blucher's vehement attacks. Napoleon, about 
6 o'clock, clearly realized the gravity of the situation, 
and reforming Victor's and Lauriston's Corps into 
one deep mass, he moved it forward on Gossa. 
The Allies, unable to resist this overwhelming body, 
retired Southwards, until the attack of the French 
was stayed by the fire of the artillery of the Russian 
Guard, massed in one great battery of 8o guns. 
A desultory cannonade ensued, and was carried on 
till night put an end to hostilities, the French and the 
Allies bivouacing in the positions they had respec- 
tively occupied in the morning. 

General von Colomb, in his " Histoire de la Cavalerie 
Frussienne," explains Murat's conduct in charging 



138 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Oct. i6, 1813. 

with separate regiments, and even squadrons, on the 
14th October, by his knowledge that his cavalry 
were insufficiently trained to act in larger bodies. 
Some French writers, on insufficient ground, as it 
appears to me, combat this argument, and say that 
he wished only to gain time. However that may be 
as regards his leading on the 14th, there cannot be 
a doubt that he committed, on the i6th October, 
nearly every fault which a cavalry leader can make in 
the conduct of such a great enterprise as was entrusted 
to him. Although he had been on the ground for 
forty-eight hours, and had fought two days previously 
within two miles of Guldengossa, he had made no 
reconnaissance of the battle-field ; and it therefore 
seems absurd to soldiers to find French writers ex- 
cusing, and explaining the disaster by the statement 
that the French were surprised to find the low ground 
near Gossa too swampy for the movements of cavalry. 
No Reserve, nor even a Support, was kept in hand. 
The prince himself, riding in front of the leading 
squadron, galloped wildly at such a pace that his 
troops were already in disorder before they closed 
on the enemy. 

General Bordesoule, writing in 1827, mentions that 
he repeatedly appealed urgently to a general officer, 
senior to him, who was in command of a division, 
for support, but that this was not afforded.* Borde- 
soule adds, and justly, that he possibly had other 
orders ; but even assuming that another division had 
been thrown into the fight, it could scarcely, at the 
moment, have materially altered the disaster which 
Murat's faulty leading of the charge had induced. 

* He apparently alluded to General St. Germain, who commanded 
the fine division of Cuirassiers and Carabiniers. 



(NFAR LEIPSICv 



NOS. Vir. AND VIII. 

CUSTOZA, 

yune, 1866. 



NOS. VII. AND VIII. 

CUSTOZA, yune, 1866. 

Vn. On the Western flank of the line of battle, an 
Austrian squadron, in order to relieve an over- 
po'wered infkntry brigade, attacks an Italian brigade 
of Ave battalions, and surprising it while in column 
of route, drives it back in confusion, taking two guns. 

viu. On the Eastern flank of the battle-field, two Austrian 
cavalry brigades attack two divisions, and though 
repulsed, arrest all day the advance of thirty-six 
Italian battalions. 

While the Prussian armies were defeating the 
Austrians under the command of Field-marshal 
von Benedek, in Bohemia, the Archduke Albrecht, 
with some 70,000 men, gained a decided victory over 
120,000 Italian troops, between Verona and Peschiera. 
Austria was obliged, from the political circumstances 
of the time, to mobilize two groups of armies, and 
at the extreme opposite ends of her frontiers. The 
greater part of her strength was naturally stationed 
in the more important sphere; but the force under 
the Archduke Albrecht had the advantage of a 
strong position which is well known under the name 
of the " Quadrilateral." 

For the purpose of these studies we may omit 
all consideration of the country bordering the Lower 
Po, and the force under General Cialdini, as, owing 



142 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. QUNE, 

to a rise in the river, he was unable to advance, 
and our consideration need therefore be given only 
to the hilly nigged country lying between the 
Mincio and the flat plain which extends immediately 
to the North and East of the town of Villafranca.* 

The former district, which, on account of its 
strategical and tactical value, has been the scene 
of many combats, is in itself peculiar. While hilly, 
the slopes of the heights, with a few exceptions, 
are not generally steep, nor are any of them inac- 
cessible. It is traversed by a number of metalled 
roads in good order, and by many field-tracks and 
footpaths. There are numerous farms, both on the 
high and low ground, generally well built, with walls 
surrounding them. If we except some waste land 
covered by thornbush and copses, we may say that 
the country is well cultivated, although from its dry 
and arid nature there is little or no pasture. There 
are some vineyards, but most of the fields are sown 
with Indian corn, and studded with thick rows of 
mulberry trees. As many of the hills are about the 
same elevation, it is difficult to see far, even from 
their higher slopes. The river Tione, which rises a 
little to the North of the Peschiera-Castelnuovo road, 
runs due South, parallel to that road as far as 
Oliosi, the heights of which turn it to the South- 
east. At the time of the battle there was but little 
water in it, but the depth of the bed, and the steep- 
ness of its bank between Oliosi and Custoza, rendered 
it an obstacle of some importance. The Eastern 
slopes of this hilly country sink abruptly into an 
almost flat plain near Somma Campagna in the 
North, and between Custoza and Villafranca in the 

* See maps at end of chapter. 



i866.] CUSTOZA. I43 

South. The plain itself, on which the town of Villa- 
franca (containing 7000 inhabitants) stands, is highly 
cultivated. Immediately to the North of the out- 
skirts of the town the fields are small, and were 
covered at the time of the battle with high stand- 
ing crops, principally of Indian corn. The ground 
IS generally level, with a slight fall to the South- 
east, and is traversed by numerous cart-tracks and 
paths. It was broken up by rows of mulberry trees 
and vines, which often so obstructed the view, for 
distances much over a hundred yards, as to render the 
movements of cavalry very difficult ; but, on the other 
hand, the infantry could not reap the full advantage 
of their fire-arms. There were no fences or ditches 
worthy of mention, except a deep drain bordering 
the Somma Campagna-Villafranca road, and broad 
and deep ditches, which, running on either side of 
the Villafranca- Verona road, added greatly to the 
loss sustained by the Austrian squadrons when they 
retreated. 

Plan of the Campaign. 

The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel, having 
declared war, to be commenced within three days, 
crossed the frontier, i.e, the Mincio river, but without 
taking any precautions, and his cavalry, instead of 
pushing to the front close up to Verona, marched in 
rear of the infantry. It is remarkable, moreover, 
that we learn in studying this action that while the 
Austrian horsemen were scattering the Italian infantry 
near Villafranca, the single orderly carrying the orders 
to the Italian cavalry division, which was to act as 
support to the infantry, lost his way, and the orders 
were never delivered. However, as the Itialian cavalry 



144 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

was intended to be in reserve, this incident did not 
affect the result. 

While the Italians were without information, and 
imagined that the Archduke was on the left bank of 
the Adige, i.e. behind Verona, the Austrians, mainly 
by skilful use of their cavalry, which, supported by 
a battalion of rifles, was pushed out to the front, were 
kept well informed of the position of the Italian 
troops. Not only were all the fords on the Mincio 
carefully watched, but touch was maintained with the 
Italian cavalry, and alarm-signals arranged for the 
rapid transmission of news of the enemy's advance. 
The archduke intended, by throwing forward his 
right from the fortress of Peschiera, to take the 
Italian army in flank as it moved from the Mincio 
across the hilly country towards the Adige river. 

On the night of the 23rd June the Italian troops 
advanced between i and 2 a.m. in several separate 
columns which were not closely connected, while 
the Austrians, on the other hand, kept their troops 
closely linked together. Dealing first with the 
action of the cavalry on the Western side of the 
battle-field, we see that the Austrian infantry under 
the brigadier-general (Benko), who had left his bivouac 
near Pastrengo, a few miles North-west of Verona, at 
3 a.m., was at 7.30 a.m. at the Southern end of Mount 
Cricole, occupying that height, and the Mongabia hill, 
with a battery established on Mount Cricole,* and 
overlooking the road underneath it. He was there 
attacked by the Italian general (Villahermosa), who 
had duly informed General Cerale, then just ad- 
vancing from Monzambano, that the advanced guard 
was engaged. There was now a general attack on 

* See map. No. XIII., at end of chapter. 



i866.] CUSTOZA. I45 

Mongabia and Mount Cricole, in which marked 
courage was shown by both sides ; but the Austrians 
being outnumbered, in the proportion of two to 
one, were presently driven back in disorder, Benko's 
brigade leaving two of its guns in the hands of the 
enemy. The Mongabia hill was also abandoned, 
and occupied by the Italians. 

At this time Major Stoppini, commanding the 
2nd battalion of the 43rd regiment, at the head of 
the brigade Forli, was on the East of the road with 
one company extended in skirmishing order, being 
followed by a section (two guns) of a battery which 
was on the road itself. At the village, Stoppini 
deployed two more companies to the right, on the 
heights to the Eastward of Mongabia, keeping one 
company to support the artillery. Swarms of Italian 
Bersaglieri preceded and accompanied this attack, 
and, pressing on, carried the farm called Penile, 
pursuing up to where the Austrian brigade (Benko) 
was being rallied. At this moment Benko's shattered 
brigade was rescued by the heroic conduct of a 
squadron of Austrian lancers of the Sicilian Regiment, 
in the following manner : — 

A squadron and a half had been placed, some time 
earlier, at Corte, near San Giorgio, in support of the 
Artillery of the Reserve. Lieutenant-colonel de Berres, 
seeing the disaster which was overwhelming General 
Benko, sent Captain Baron Bechtoldsheim with three 
troops of the 6th squadron — total, all ranks, loi men — 
to attack, in flank, the Italian column then marching 
on Fenile. Bechtoldsheim rode straight to the Tione, 
but while he was endeavouring to find a way down its 
steep banks, the Austrians were driven out of Fenile. 
The Lancers, however, having crossed the river-bed, 

L 



146 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

moved Westwards up to the Castelnuovo road, and 
then turning Southwards, passed Benko's brigade, at 
this moment trying to rally, and ascended Mount 
Cricole in order to reconnoitre the advancing enemy. 
Bechtoldsheim now saw, in the low ground under- 
neath, the two guns and rear company of the 2nd 
battalion of the 43rd regiment, and close to them 
a group of mounted officers, which consisted of 
Generals Cerale and Dho, and their Staffs, who 
were riding behind the leading battalion of the 
brigade Forli, all unsuspicious of the proximity of 
the Lancers. Bechtoldsheim descending at speed, 
and passing on his right scattered fractions of the 
Pisa brigade, rode at the guns before they could 
unlimber. The generals, their Staffs, and the drivers 
of the guns fled at a gallop, but a lancer killed the 
lieutenant in command, and the guns were over- 
taken. Major Stoppini was speared on the outskirts 
of the village of Mongabia, and the chief Staff officer 
of Cerale's division was, with his horse, knocked over 
into a ditch. Captain Bechtoldsheim had his horse 
shot, and fell underneath it, but extricating himself 
and mounting on that of Major Stoppini, he pursued 
the flying enemy. 

The sudden attack of the Lancers, and the rapid 
retreat of the guns, produced a panic in the brigade 
Forli, which was following the 43rd regiment on the 
road, and at this moment the Austrian brigade 
Weimar, coming on, attacked Fenile, while another 
column pursued the 2nd battalion of the 43rd, driving 
it back to Oliosi. The battalion rallied at this village, 
but the Lancers, charging again, rode through the 
Italian ranks, obliging Generals Cerale and Dho 
to fight for their lives. The latter was wounded 



1866] CUSTOZA. I47 

three times by lancers, and General Cerale was acci- 
dentally wounded by a bullet fired by one of his own 
men. This charge so demoralized the Italians that 
when the Austrian brigade Piret, coming on, com- 
pleted the disorder, the brigade Forli broke up, the 
men being panic-stricken. Of its five battalions only 
one remained firm. This one was not touched by 
the Lancers during their attack, in which scarcely a 
horseman was hurt, but, as the squadron came back 
from the pursuit, the battalion lined a hedge and 
punished the Lancers heavily. The other battalions 
had dispersed in all directions. Some men were rallied 
at Oliosi, but others fied as far as Monzambano and 
Valeggio, distant three and four miles respectively. 

Captain Bechtoldsheim collected the 17 men of 
his squadron still remaining in the saddle, leaving 
as casualties on the ground 2 officers, 84 men, and 
79 horses. He paid dearly for his determined action, 
but the result was worth a much greater loss. Not 
only did he gain breathing time for Benko's brigade 
to rally, but the panic he created down the road 
caused such great delay in the Italian advance as 
to give the Austrian supports time to come up. 

If we turn now to the Eastern side of the battle- 
field,* we shall see a still more remarkable instance 
of the effects which can be produced by determined 
cavalry leaders. 

The divisions of Prince Humbert and Bixio, the 
i6th and 7th respectively, had marched at 1.30 a,m. 
on Villafranca. A storm of wind rising about 10 
p.m. had overturned their tents, but the accompany- 
ing heavy rains allayed, till after sunrise, the dust, 

* See map, No. XIV., at end of chapter. 



148 ACHIE\^MENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

which in that district is always trying in summer-time. 
The 7th and i6th divisions were preceded each by 
a squadron of cavalry, which had got to the North 
of Villafranca before daylight, but reported that 
there were no signs of the enemy to be seen, although 
the country people stated that Austrian cavalry and 
Horse artillery had been in the neighbourhood on the 
previous day. The Italian generals were under the 
impression that the Austrians would not be seen in 
force until the Adige was reached, and remained under 
this erroneous idea until the heavy fire, opened near 
Oliosi, was heard. Two brigades of Austrian cavalry, 
placed temporarily under the command of Colonel 
Pulz, had been ordered to advance from their bivouacs 
outside Verona, and cover the left flank of the army. 
Pulz's own brigade consisted of the 13th (Count 
Trani's) Lancers, 13th Hussars, ist Emperor's Hussars, 
all of four squadrons each; and 8 Horse artillery 
guns. Bujanovic's brigade consisted of the 12th 
(Sicilian) Lancers, two squadrons ; i ith (Wurtemberg) 
and 3rd (Bavarian) Hussars, each of three squadrons. 
Total, 20 squadrons, with 2230 horses. Shortly after 
5 a.m. they were in position to the South of Somma- 
Campagna, ready to attack the Italians, whose ap- 
proach was indicated by clouds of dust rising high 
in the air, notwithstanding the rain-storm overnight. 
The left Austrian brigade, under Colonel Bujanovics, 
had detached one squadron, the 6th, at 2.30 a.m. on 
duty to the Westward — the Sicilian Lancers, whose 
brilliant exploit I have tried to describe. Of the res 
maining eight squadrons of the brigade, five had been 
on outpost duty all night, but rejoined before day- 
light, when the brigade marched off in two columns. 
At 6.4s a.m. a troop of the nth Hussars, supported 



i866.] CUSTOZA. I49 

by • two squadrons Wurtemberg Hussars, attacked 
the advanced guard squadron of Prince Humbert's 
division at Calori, which stands one and a quarter 
miles North-east of Villafranca, near the Verona road. 
The Italian squadron retired, pursued by the Austrian 
Hussars, through a chain of Bersaglieri, extended as 
skirmishers, who were covering Prince Humbert's 
advance, and pressed on up to a line of battalions 
formed in squares to the East of Villafranca. These 
opened fire on the Austrians, who retired slowly, the 
retreat being covered by two other squadrons, which 
had advanced halfway between Calori and Villafranca, 
and Bujanovics reassembled his brigade at Academia. 
Colonel Pulz's own brigade, formed in line of 
columns, was at this moment passing Palazzina, 
and on hearing the firing, the brigadier determined 
to attack, in flank, the troops which he imagined 
were advancing on the Verona road against Buja- 
novics, and he sent him orders to move from 
Academia to his right, and co-operate. Colonel Pulz, 
hearing shortly afterwards from his scouts that there 
were two Italian cavalry regiments to the North of 
Villafranca — which was, however, an error, as there 
were but two squadrons — the brigadier, having de- 
ployed his brigade, three squadrons of each regiment 
in line, one squadron as support in column behind 
the outer flanks, advanced. Count Trani's Lancers 
were on the left, and the Emperor's Hussars on the 
right, but somewhat in rear, with a battery between 
the two, and on the road. As Pulz passed Gan- 
fardine, he caught sight of the Italian squadrons, 
and ordered his battery to open fire, which was 
returned from a section of an Italian battery, in 
action on the Verona road. The fire was innocuous 



ISO ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

on either side, and at 7.15 a.m. the brigadier gave 
the order to attack to the Southward in the following 
words : " Lancers direct — Ride over whatever is in 
our front." 

We will turn now to the Italian side, and consider 
what was occurring in the divisions led by Generals 
Bixio and Prince Humbert. 

At 6.30 a.m. Prince Humbert was informed, when 
near Cascina San Giovanni, by an aide-de-camp 
who was returning from a reconnaissance on the 
Verona road, that he had seen some of the enemy's 
squadrons near Calori. Prince Humbert immediately 
deployed his leading brigade into two "lines of 
•columns at half intervals," the lines being at three 
hundred yards' distance. The prince, at this time, 
having previously gone out to the front to watch the 
brigade of Austrian cavalry commanded by Buja- 
novics, had just returned to his division, the leading 
brigade of which, according to his instructions, was 
retiring slowly on Villafranca. At the moment, sur- 
rounded by his Staff, he was on the road, when suddenly 
the Italian and Austrian batteries ceased fire, and the 
shaking of the ground, with the noise of galloping 
horses, indicated clearly that an attack by cavalry 
was imminent. General Ferrero ordered his brigade 
to get into squares, but the movement was only half 
completed when the Lancers, who had received the 
order " Charge " when at two hundred paces distance, 
galloped through the mulberry trees, and with the 
greatest determination threw themselves by sections 
on the Italian infantry. Neither the Austrian horse- 
men nor the Italian battalions had much warning 
of the collision, for the trees hid both sides, and the 



/ 



i866] CUSTOZA. IS I 

squadrons, riding fast, had closed up to their ground 
scouts, who did not see the Italians till they were a 
quarter of a mile south of Canuova, and within five 
hundred yards of the foe. The 4th battalions of the 
49th, and of the SOth, had just time enough to com- 
plete the square formations, and Prince Humbert, 
followed by his Staff, managed to ride through a 
broad deep ditch bordering the roadway, and get 
into the nearest square a moment before the Lancers 
reached the spot 

General Revel, Prince Humbert's chief adviser, who 
was returning from the Front, where he had been 
reconnoitring on the Verona road, having a fast horse, 
just managed to escape the horsemen. His Staff 
officer, however, was overtaken, and knocked out of 
the saddle. In a moment the brigade Parma, with the 
exception of those in square, was overpowered by the 
Lancers, who galloped right over the bayonets, on 
the points of which several of their horses were 
transfixed. The 2nd battalion of the 49th regiment 
was caught while retiring in line, previous to getting 
into square, and it broke up, scattering in all direc- 
tions under the headlong attack of the cavalry. 
Two companies of the 3rd battalion of the same 
regiment, which were in skirmishing order in the 
fields to the West of the road, had not time to get 
into groups before the Austrians were on them, and 
they fled, every man seeking safety for himself. 
Two other companies formed a rallying square 
around the Colours of the regiment, and were suc- 
cessfully retired under the protection of a square 
formed further back. Two of the battalions of this 
regiment being well formed in square at the Eastern 
corner of Villafranca, facing round to the rear, re- 
pulsed their attackers. 



152 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

While the Lancers were spearing some infantry 
grouped round a large mulberry tree, and shouting 
to them to surrender, a squadron of Italian cavalry, 
issuing forth from the town, charged Trani's men in ^ 

flank. The ist squadron met the attack, and was J 

followed by the others, and all now came at the 
gallop on a battery, which at the moment was 
between the first and second line of the Parma 
brigade. It was surprised ; some drivers galloped 
to the rear with the limbers, abandoning the guns, 
two of which, on the road itself, were taken in 
reverse, and the gunners were speared. The guns 
could have been carried off by the Lancers on the 
Verona road had not the roadway been blocked by 
fallen horses, many of which fell with their riders into 
the broad ditch, where they were shot by the groups 
of Bersaglieri, which they had attacked and then left 
near the mulberry trees in order to follow the Italian 
squadron. 

The limbers of the artillery, and numberless 
soldiers who had been routed, flying towards the rear, 
initiated a panic which seized the transport further 
back. General de la Rocca at once endeavoured to 
restore order, and sent forward three squadrons across 
the fields between the railroad, and the Verona road. 
The Austrian cavalry, at this moment, scattered in 
pursuit, were overpowered by these three squadrons^ 
and in order to avoid the bullets from the squares,, 
the men of which were firing behind them at point- 
blank range, the greater part of the Lancers rode on 
towards Villafranca, hoping to retire by the Verona 
road. Some few surrendered ; others endeavouring 
to jump the deep ditch which borders this road, fell 
into it, while others again, seeing that their comrades 



i866.] CUSTOZA. 153 

could not cross, retreated close by the squares, and 
suffered much loss. 

During the attack of the Lancers, the Emperor's 
Hussars, under command of Colonel Rigyitsky, col- 
lided with the 7th division under General Bixio, whose 
leading brigade, having formed across the Villafranca- 
Somma-Campagna road, was extending its left 
towards Pozzo Moretta, with two companies of Ber- 
saglieri. Ten minutes after the charge of Trani's 
Lancers, Rigyitsky, when close to Villafranca, came 
in sight of three squadrons of Italian cavalry, which, 
wheeling about, galloped away to the rear, unmasking 
lines of Bersaglieri extended in skirmishing order, 
and behind them stood the formed squares of Bixio's 
leading brigade. The Hussars, passing through the 
skirmishers, who, formed in groups, never hesitated, 
and galloping at the squares, overthrew at the same 
moment a detachment of cavalry which attempted to 
take the Austrians in flank. These were the same 
squadrons which had been previously shaken by 
Trani's Lancers. Although the Hussars did not suc- 
ceed in actually breaking any squares, yet they threw 
them into disorder ; but eventually, being fired on 
heavily, the squadrons retired, followed by an Italian 
regiment, which near Canuova was met and repulsed 
by Bujanovics's brigade. The survivors of Pulz's 
brigade rallied near Ganfardine. Out of 600 who had 
ridden forward, only about 200, under ist Lieutenant 
Rodakowski, answered the Roll call, the remainder 
being dead, wounded, or taken prisoners. Colonel 
Pulz now received, on his return to Ganfardine, an 
order for his division to adopt a passive attitude. 

When, about 7.30 a.m.,Bujanovics received the order 
from Brigadier Pulz to move to the right, the brigade 



154 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

of eight squadrons trotted to Canuova, and then 
turning to the South, advanced in column of troops 
on Villafranca, the Wurtemberg Hussars on the right, 
Bavarian Hussars in the centre, and the Sicilian 
Lancers in echelon on the left rear. As the brigade 
approached the town it came under heavy artillery 
fire, which, from Casella onwards, caused many 
casualties. On reaching Canuova both flanks were 
attacked by several squadrons of the enemy, but they 
were vigorously repulsed, and driven back on to their 
infantry. The squadrons on the flank of the brigades, 
i^, the nth Hussars (Wurtemberg) on the right, and 
the Sicilian Lancers on the left, retired by order 
without attacking the eight squares, which were now 
well formed and steady, while the two squadrons of 
the Hussars (Bavarian), which had been moving in 
support, galloping forward, drove back the Italian 
cavalry which had followed up the flank squadrons 
of the brigades. Each attack of the two brigades, 
though not quite simultaneous, lasted about fifteen 
minutes. About eight o'clock Bujanovics retired to 
Casetta, leaving two squadrons in contact with the 
enemy near Villafranca. 

During this short but gallant feat of the cavalry 
the Italians lost 17 killed, 71 wounded, and 10 
prisoners, mainly in the 3rd squadron of the Light 
Dragoons of Alexandria. The infantry which got 
into square suffered practically no loss. 

Brigadier-general Pulz's command remained in- 
active and unmolested all day till the evening, watching 
the enemy from the neighbourhood of Ganfardine, 
who made no attempt to resume the march to Somma- 
Campagna, which place it had been intended should 
be occupied by the 6th and 7th Italian divisions. 



iS66.] CUSTOZA. 1 55 

About 5 p.m. the Austrian infantry were assault- 
ing the line of hills, Mount Croce-Custozza,* which 
stand about two miles to the North-west of Villa- 
franca, when Brigadier Pulz was ordered to threaten 
the right flank of the Italian troops holding those 
positions. He formed two columns, and having sent 
one regiment towards Villafranca to cover his left 
flank, he moved on the Valeggio road, which passes 
between Villafranca and Pozzo Moretta. The right 
column, of which he took the personal command, 
was composed of the Emperor's Hussars and two 
squadrons of Wurtemberg Hussars, while Bujanovics 
led the left column, composed of four squadrons of 
Bavarian Hussars and two of Sicilian Lancers. A 
battery of Horse artillery, and the survivors of Trani's 
Lancers, formed the support, while a squadron of the 
Wurtemberg Hussars covered the left flank. 

When Brigadier-general Pulz was approaching 
the Berettara ditch,t learning that the houses on the 
Western edge of it were occupied by Italian in- 
fantry, he brought a battery into action, but meeting 
with no resistance, sent one column to cross over at the 
bridge, the other fording the ditch half a mile further 
North. Once across the dyke, Pulz deployed the 
regiment of Emperor's Hussars into line, with a 
squadron of Wurtemberg Hussars behind either 
flank, and he then moved rapidly forward by Cerchi, 
on Capella. At Cei-chi he came on two companies 
of infantry, the men of which laid down their arms 
and surrendered. Further in front, seeing bodies of 
scattered detachments of the enemy, who, having 
retreated from Mount Croce, were making for Villa- 
franca, his squadrons dashed into them ; they were all 

* See map, No. XIII. f See map, No. XIV. 



IS6 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [June, 

moving in disorder, and the horsemen made great 
numbers of prisoners ; but then, from over-excite- 
ment, they lost the direction of advance. Lieut.- 
colonel Rigyitsky, leading two squadrons and a half 
of his own regiment, the Emperor's Hussars, and 
one squadron of Wurtemberg Hussars, pursued the 
Italian infantry up to the North-west corner of the 
town, where several formed bodies stood, with artillery 
in action. These did not, however, fire, and many men, 
coming singly out of the town, gave themselves up 
as prisoners, declaring that those within the building 
were ready to surrender. The colonel sent an officer 
with a white flag to inform an Italian general, who 
was not far off, that the rest of the army being beaten, 
his troops at Villafranca w^ere cut off, and that he 
must lay down his arms. This the general, who was 
Bixio himself, declined to do ; and as the officer 
retired, fire was re-opened, and the colonel drew back 
his men and reported to Brigadier-general Pulz what 
had taken place. 

In the mean time, however, the right half of the 
brigade, under the brigadier himself, was pursuing 
the fugitives who were coming down from Mount 
Torre, Le, the hill immediately over Pozzo Moretta, 
while at the same moment Colonel Bujanovics was 
moving on Capella, near which place his scouts had 
reported several detachments of the enemy's cavalry. 
Bujanovics immediately changed direction to the left, 
and moved to the attack, but the Italians retired so 
rapidly that they could not be overtaken. In pur- 
suing them, Bujanovics charged several squares in 
position to the North of Villafranca, but was beaten 
back, and then by Colonel Pulz's order, retired to 
Ganfardine, two squadrons of Bavarian Hussars being 



1866 J CUSTOZA. 157 

left in contact with the enemy on the Berettara 
ditch. 

Brigadier-general Pulz now recognized clearly that 
his horses, which had been neither fed nor watered 
since 3 a.m., were incapable of an effective pursuit. 
He, however, having received Lieut-colonel Rigyit- 
sky's report, considered that it was worth while to 
endeavour to persuade the Italian infantry, still in 
occupation of Villafranca, to surrender, and advanced 
a battery on the Staffalo- Villafranca road, and formed 
a line composed of two squadrons of Sicilian Lancers 
and a squadron of Wurtemberg Hussars, the two 
contact squadrons being ordered to conform, while 
Bujanovics was directed to prolong the line to the left 

Pulz himself advanced straight on the roadway, for 
even on that firm surface his horses could only be 
urged forward at a walk. When he came to within 
300 yards of the enemy, he perceived a detachment 
of Italian Lancers moving forward. Two Austrian 
guns opened fire, and the Italian cavalry retreating, 
the Emperor's Hussars galloped after them, till at 
a turn of the road close to Villafranca they came 
in front of infantry formed in square, and several 
batteries, which opened a hot fire at point blank 
range. The handful of Austrian Hussars, with- 
out hesitation, galloped straight at the squares, but 
were obliged to retire, suffering heavily. Hear- 
ing this noise. Colonel Bujanovics increased the 
pace of his men, but it was impossible to get the 
horses to gallop. Two squadrons of Bavarian Hussars 
went forward, but coming under the fire of infantry 
formed behind trees, were obliged to retire. Colonel 
Bujanovics now selected thirty of the least exhausted 
horses, and galloped at the battery formed at the 



158 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. IJunk, 

angle of the road. Night was just closing in, and a 
battalion of Bersaglieri, concealed behind trees, jump- 
ing up, fired into the Hussars at point blank range. 
Bujanovics's horse was shot dead, and he himself, 
dangerously wounded, fell close to the bayonets of 
a square. Lieut. Krisztianyi and one hussar only 
reached the battery. There they found one cannon 
upset in a ditch, and two others abandoned in a field 
with the teams taken away, and the detachments 
dispersed. Krisztianyi now fell seriously wounded 
under his dead horse, which lay on his foot Some 
of the Italian infantry, in the excitement of the 
moment, struck at him with the butts of their guns ; 
others bayoneted him, and the lieutenant would 
doubtless have been killed, but that he attracted 
the attention of General Bixio, to whom he tendered 
his sword. The general refused to accept the sword, 
saying : " No ! Keep it, for you are worthy to wear 
it," and had him immediately sent to hospital. 

The Austrian cavalry, being thoroughly exhausted, 
now drew back, in the first place to Ganfardine, 
where, being unable to water, they left two squadrons 
on outpost duty, the remainder returning to their 
bivouac of the previous night, near Verona, which 
was reached at 10 p.m. 

The two brigades of Austrian cavalry took over 
2400 prisoners, and suffered a loss themselves as 
follows : — 

PuLz's Brigade. 
Killed. Wounded. Missing. Horses. 

Officers. Others. Officers. Others. Officers. Others. 

2 45 6 55 2 161 355 

BujANovics's Brigade. 
2 7 21 I 67 132 



I866J CUSTOZA. 159 

Nearly all these casualties occurred in the first half- 
hour's fighting. 

Comments. — The initial losses of the Italians, and 
subsequently those which followed throughout the day, 
were due to the want of information of the enemy's 
plans. On the other hand, the Archduke Albrecht had 
taken every precaution, both to hide his own move- 
ments and to ascertain those of the Italians. Until 
the army actually advanced, the Italians were well 
supplied with information from individuals within the 
frontier, who were hostile to the Austrians, but this 
source failed directly the Austrians took steps to 
prevent information being taken to the enemy. If, 
instead of trusting to a system of spies, the cavalry of 
the King's army had been thrown forward close to 
Verona, the Italian army would not have been sur- 
prised in its march. 

It is remarkable how very little use the Italian 
Commander-in-Chief made of his cavalry, the bulk 
of which was kept out of action in the rear of the 
infantry columns. Whatever, may have been the 
cause, or causes, for this faulty arrangement, there 
can be no doubt that the opposing horsemen were 
unequally matched. Since i860 the numbers of 
the Italian army had been steadily increased ; but in 
Italy there is a great want of the material from which 
efficient cavalry is made, while at the opening of the 
campaign the regiments were very short of horses. 
On the other hand, the Austrian cavalry attracts all 
the best of the aristocracy into the ranks of the 
officers, and the Rank and File are carefully selected 
from well-to-do peasantry ; and in spite of the in- 
evitable hardships of a service in which neither man 
nor beast is ever spared, such is the high spirit of the 



l6o ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. June, 

Arm that there is never any difficulty in obtaining 
willing soldiers, it being understood, in a conscripted 
army, that they must all serve in some branch. Officers 
and men ride well, and in June, 1866, both regimenta.1 
and brigade commanders were excellent, although the 
qualities necessary for a leader of higher command 
were not often shown in the campaign in Bohemia. 

Colonel Pulz was forty-three years of age, and 
Bajanovics five years older. Both had served with 
distinction in the Hungarian War of 1848-49, and in 
the Italian Campaign of 1859. Captain Baron Bech- 
toldsheim was thirty-two years of age. His astound- 
ing feat was not appreciated in Austria till Major 
Corsi, of the Italian staff, some years afterwards wrote 
his account of the war. Then, in 1870, Baron Bech- 
toldsheim received the much-prized order of Maria 
Theresa. 

The fact of the Italian infantry having been armed 
with rifles (muzzle loaders, and not smooth bores), 
did not materially affect the question of the relative 
power of the two Arms, as, on account of the cultiva- 
tion, it was seldom possible to see more than 100 yards. 

The Austrian Commander-in-chief, having changed 
his plans during the night, sent orders to General 
Pulz to maintain a passive attitude all day. Had 
this order been received before Pulz attacked, the 
6th and 7th Italian divisions might easily have 
advanced, but, fortunately for the Archduke, the officer 
carrying the orders arrived at Ganfardine a few 
minutes after Pulz's advance had been begun. This 
delay enabled a determined leader, imbued with the 
true spirit of cavalry, to so employ his devoted 
squadrons that for fourteen hours they prevented the 
advance of an Army Corps. 



btaigiif 
ajpttd 
dim 



gitk 



No. IX. 



BEN ATEK, 

2,rci yuly^ 1866. 



M 



No. IX. 
BENATEK, ird July, 1866. 

A squadron of Frussian Hussars, surprising a Hun- 
garian battalion as it emerges from a wood, captures 
a Colour, 16 officers, and 665 of other ranks. 

The causes which induced the great war of 1866 
are to be found in the constant struggles for 
supremacy of the two dominant races in North and 
South Germany. They combined, in 1864, to crush 
Denmark, and to take from that country the Elbe 
Duchies ; but no sooner had this been carried 
out than the antagonistic aims of the conquerors 
became apparent. An effort was, indeed, made, and 
recorded in the Treaty of Gastein, to preserve peace. 
Under this agreement, Schleswig was occupied by 
Prussian, and Holstein by Austrian troops, the two 
Duchies being governed by the respective Powers 
furnishing the garrisons ; but this make-shift arrange- 
ment lasted only for a short time. 

In 1866, Italy having thrown in her lot with Prussia, 
war was declared between the North and South 
German States, the orders for the invasion of Bohemia 
being telegraphed from Berlin on the 22nd June. 
It soon became apparent that the armies of Austria 
were so inferior in numbers, in armament, and in 
the education of the higher officers, that the struggle. 



1 64 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 3. 1866. 

for her, was hopeless from the first, and the general 
result of the several battles fought by the three sepa- 
rate armies of Prussia, from the 26th June to the 28th, 
led up to the crowning victory of Koniggratz, which 
was won two days after the command of the united 
armies had been assumed by the King of Prussia. 

Benedek's position, chosen to arrest the Prussians 
near Koniggratz, was on a chain of hills between 
the Elbe and the Bistritz, a stream which runs 
generally from North to South, five miles distant 
from the Elbe.* It is about twelve feet broad, with 
marshy banks and muddy bottom, and is, therefore, 
for mounted troops, passable only at the bridges. The 
range of hills, the slopes of which are nowhere steeper 
than 10°, except on the North side of the Swiep 
Wald, culminates at Problus and Chlum, sinking into 
the plain between Tresowitz and Stresititz. The 
range on the North-east stretches towards Hore- 
nowes, and then trends back in an Easterly direction 
to the Trotinna river, near Racitz. The top of the 
ridge is about one mile and a half from the Bistritz, 
the slope up from which is somewhat steep and 
broken, while towards the Elbe the ground falls with 
a gentle inclination, and there in no part forms any 
obstacle to cavalry or artillery. Further to the 
South-west the country rises towards Lubno, reach- 
ing its highest point in the high ground to the 
Southward of Nechanitz, 

The country about the Imperial road, Lubno-Prim, 
is very open, though studded with villages, of which 
there are seven. These villages were not placed in 
a state of defence, even the entrances being left 
unclosed. Some abatis had been placed in position, 

* See map. No. XV. 



> 

X 

o 
55 




1 66 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Julys, 

but not enough, and the strong stone buildings were 
not loopholed. As part of the Austrian army was 
at Sadowa two days before the battle, this is in- 
explicable. Chlum itself was fortified only at the 
North and North-west, and was attacked at 3 p.m. 
on the 3rd July, on the North-east, where it lay 
entirely open to assault. 

The charge with which I am now concerned took 
place a little to the South-west of, but near, Benatek, 
and outside the North-west front of the Swiep Wald, 
or Maslowed Wood.* This wood stands mostly on a 
hill, and measures 1000 paces from North to South, and 
2000 from East to West. The ridge is steep and diffi- 
cult of access from the North, on which side the slopes 
are cut up by many ravines ; but the descent towards 
the Bistritz, on the North-west, is more gradual. The 
South-eastern slope of the hill, as far to the West- 
ward as the road leading from Cistowes to Benatek, 
was covered with oak scrub, in which there were many 
stacks of piled timber. The triangular belt of trees 
standing to the West of the above-mentioned road, 
and North-east of the road which descends the hill 
from Ejast to West, had been cut down in parts and 
piled in stacks in a similar manner. The rest of the 
wood consisted of high timber, in some places with 
undergrowth, but was in others clear of it. 

Such was the nature of the ground on which Field- 
marshal Benedek had assembled his army. The first 
line, facing to the West and to the North, stretched 
from Nechanitz, by Lipa, Maslowed, Benatek, near 
Horenowes, to Sendrasitz, between which place and 
the Elbe was stationed Prince Taxis' cavalry division. 
The second line was about Nedelist, and to the North 

* See map at end of chapter. 



i866.] BENATEK. 1 67 

of Wsestar were not only the corps of Clam Gall^s 
and Ramming, but all the Reserves of cavalry and 
artillery. Thus nearly all Benedek's Mounted men 
were assembled on ground much too contracted for 
their effective use. The artillery was well placed on 
the high ground which formed the two fronts of the 
position, and was, in many instances, in tiers of 
batteries, on the Western slopes of the hills, covered 
by epaulments ; but the lower slopes of the position, 
though abatis had been put down in places, were 
inadequately prepared and insufficiently occupied by 
infantry. 

The. characteristics of the opposing armies differed 
essentially. The Prussian troops were practically 
homogeneous, speaking one language, bound by ties 
of localization, and, in the lower ranks, more highly 
educated than those of any other Power. The Austrian 
forces were drawn from five distinct races, speaking 
different languages, and, in some cases, being still 
more widely separated perhaps in thoughts, education 
and feelings. In the previous week's operations 35,000 
men, many guns and Colours, had been lost, and, in 
addition to the depression naturally due to such 
reverses, difficulties had arisen in the last few days as 
regards rations, owing to the very concentrated posi- 
tion taken up by the armies. On the ist July, though 
the troops marched actually from point to point only 
nine miles, the movement occupied nearly twenty- 
four hours. Soldiers whb have been on service will 
understand the exhausting effect of such an operation. 

The Austrians had 190,000 'men and 600 guns on 
the ground, and the Prussians allege that, although 
they had 780 guns in the field, they brought only 
210,000 men and a much smaller number of guns 



l68 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. QUI.Y3, 

into action, until the crisis of the battle was over and 
the retreat had been commenced. 

In Achievement No. VII. I endeavoured to show 
how well the Austrian cavalry performed Outpost 
duties on the Mincio before they fought so grandly at 
Custoza ; but in the Bohemian campaign, though they 
covered the retreat of the battle of Koniggratz with 
devoted gallantry, the scouting duties were badly 
done. Major Adams, who served for many years in 
the Austrian army, having been present in the battle 
of Novara (1849),* says the cavalry oflkers were not 
sufficiently educated to estimate correctly the enemy's 
numbers, nor what his movements portended. They 
thought only of shock tactics, and though both officers 
and men were generally of a class superior to the 
average infantry soldier, yet their military education 
was defective. The failure of the cavalry to affi>rd 
Field-marshal Benedek timely information was one of 
the many causes which tended to his decisive defeat 
on the 3rd July. 

On the evening of the 2nd July the King of 
Prussia's headquarters were at Jicin ; Prince Frederick 
CharleSy with the ist Army, was at Kamenitz; the 
Crown Prince, with the 2nd Army, at Koniginhof ; 
and General von Herwarth's division was at Hoch 
Weseley. The Prussian armies were extended on 
a frontage of 25 miles, the advanced guard, formed 
by the 7th and 8th divisions, being in Milowitz, 
Gross-Jeritz, and Cerekwitz. 

* When I was stodying at the Staff College in 1863-64, Major 
Adams was an instmctor at the Royal Military College, aboat three 
quarters of a mile distant, and, with several fellow-stndents, I used to 
attend some of his lectures. In that on the Novara Campaign he was 
the most eloquent lecturer I ever heard. 



I866J BENATEK. 1 69 

The morning of the 3rd opened unpleasantly ; rain 
fell, accompanied by mist, the skies were clouded, and 
for the season of the year it was bitterly cold. This 
was felt the more, by the troops in bivouac, owing to 
the sudden fall in temperature, the weather during 
the previous week having been hot, and the night 
of the 29th-30th June unbearably so. 

General Fransecky's division (the 7th) had assembled 
at 1.30 a.m., and got into position at Cerekwitz by 
3 o'clock. Shortly before 7 a.m., when the Prussian 
advanced guard came in sight, fire was opened by the 
Austrian batteries on the South fiide of the Bistritz, 
between the woods of Sadowa and the Swiep Wald. 
By 7.30 a,m. the artillery fire of the opposing forces 
had become general, although Prince Frederick 
Charles, commanding the ist Army, had given orders 
that the Prussian batteries should only fire slowly 
until the weather cleared, and that the leading portion 
of tlie advanced guard should not cross the Bistritz 
until the rear of it had closed up. 

Shortly after 8 a.m., when the King of Prussia 
came on the ground, the 7th division seized the right 
bank of the Bistritz, and then proceeded to attack 
the Swiep Wald, into which the Austrian Major- 
general, Brandenstein, had moved forward the main 
body of his brigade from its bivouac at the South-east 
of Maslowed, in order that he might support both 
wings of his outpost line. Into the wood he sent at 
this time four battalions, while his battery came into 
action to the South of Maslowed. About 8.30 a.m, 
the serious struggle for this important portion of the 
battle-field began, and was continued till I p.m. 

At ID o'clock the Austrian brigades (Poeckh and 
Archduke Joseph) were thrown into this part of the 



170 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Julys, 

fight, which was then going in favour of Benedek's 
troops. Both sides fought remarkably well, and once 
inside the wood the Prussians lost the hitherto over- 
whelming advantage of the needle-gun, mainly by 
which they had gained the actions fought during the 
preceding week. Shortly after lo a.m., being greatly 
outnumbered, they were obliged to fall back, in spite 
of the heroic conduct of their officers, one of whom. 
Major von Gilsan, who had been wounded several 
times, led forward three companies of the 2nd bat- 
talion of the 26th regiment, and, being held up by a 
bandsman, continued to command his men, until, 
absolutely exhausted, he was obliged to go back to 
the rear, not, however, until, having reformed the 
surviving effectives, he had thanked his men for their 
conduct. He died three days afterwards of his 
wounds. 

The Austrians and Prussians were now fighting by 
single companies, entirely disconnected, and bullets 
were coming from every direction. Some Austrian 
battalions reached the Western edge of the wood, 
while the Prussians were at its Southern boundary, 
having crossed over their respective tracks during the 
struggle. 

Count Poeckh's brigade had fairly entered the 
South-east edge of the wood soon after 10.30, its first 
line being formed of the 8th Rifle battalion and sist 
regiment (Archduke Charles Ferdinand). It was at 
this portion of the thicket that the Austrians were 
in strongeist force ; and the main body of Poeckh's 
brigade colliding with the battalion of the 26th and 
27th Prussian regiments, after a severe struggle drove 
them back in various directions. Meanwhile Colonel 
Poeckh's left wing encountered some Prussians who 



1866.] BENATEK. I/I 

had pressed on to the North of Cistowes, and Poeckh's 
men, passing behind these, closed the direct line of 
retreat to the Prussians, who fell back to the West- 
ward, where they held their ground in buildings and 
meadows near the Bistritz stream. 

There had been a great number of casualties on 
both sides, and all the mounted officers had lost 
their horses. The effect of Colonel Poeckh's pro- 
gress in a North-westerly direction was, however, 
felt throughout the wood, and into its North-eastern 
corner, where an obstinate fight was still being 
waged. Not only was Fransecky's division cut in 
two, but those Germans who retreated into the North- 
east corner were attacked from Maslowed, being fired 
on in front, flank, and rear at the same time. 

The Prussians still held part of the Northern boun- 
dary of the wood, but the companies had got mixed 
together as the fight swayed backwards and forwards, 
and it was impossible to maintain any unity of corti- 
mand. Thus the combat degenerated into isolated 
struggles carried on by officers who put themselves at 
the head of any soldiers they could collect. These 
they led again and again into the wood, Fransecky 
himself, by his personal demeanour, encouraging the 
soldiers to resist the renewed attack of the enemy. 
Some Prussian companies, as I have stated above, 
were driven out of the Western edge, towards the 
river, while others were pushed into the North-east 
angle of the wood. 

Between 11.30 and 12 the 3rd battalion of 
the Sist (Hungarian) regiment (Archduke Charles 
Ferdinand) had worked its way up to the boundary, 
and driving before it the thin line of its opponents, 
broke out into the open from the North-west corner 



172 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Julys, 

of the wood. All its mounted officers had been struck 
down, and the battalion had lost the true direction 
while inside the trees, so when it came into the open, 
instead of bringing up the left shoulder and pressing 
on in a North-easterly direction, as it should have 
done, it turned to the North-west, heading for a small 
copse in the valley of the Bistritz, near Hnewcowes. 

When soldiers have been heavily engaged, and the 
men have expended nearly all their ammunition, they 
become liable to panic, but more especially so when 
taken by surprise. The infantry regiment of the 3rd 
battalion, which met with this overwhelming disaster, 
went into action on the 3rd July with 72 officers, 
and 2559 ^'^ other ranks, and had lost in killed and 
wounded 20 officers and 637 others, before the 
incident I am about to describe occurred. 

Before narrating how this astonishing feat was 
achieved — a squadron capturing six times its own 
numbers of fighting men — it may be instructive for 
cavalry officers to notice how it was employed previous 
to the 3rd July. 

The loth Magdeburgh Hussar regiment was at- 
tached to the 7th (Fransecky's) infantry division. 
Though not engaged in the previous battles, it had 
done hard work, squadrons being detached on special 
duty, but the regiment was re-united on the 29th 
June, a wing which had been detached to Jicin re- 
joining during the advance. My young comrades will 
gather the necessity of strict discipline on service 
when they learn that on the 29th and 30th the regi- 
ment did not reach its bivouac till 11 p.m., while 
during the night 2nd-3rd July it was practically con- 
stantly on the move. It was ordered at midnight 
to advance to Cerekwitz, and at 2 a.m. reached the 



l866.] BENATEK. 173 

bivouac fires of the outposts, where the men lay down, 
holding their horses, and so remained till 7.30 a.m., at 
which time the guns of the 8th division opened fire. 

Dealing first of all with the movements of the 
2nd, 3rd, and 4th squadrons, I may mention that 
these, posted near, but to the Eastward of Benatek, 
seeing an Austrian column emerge from the Swiep 
Wald, and marching on the village, between 10 and 
1 1 a.m., advanced to the attack, and drove it back. 

The 1st squadron, detailed as the advanced 
portion of the advanced guard, 7th division, moved 
outside, and to the West of the Swiep Wald, con- 
forming to the movements of the infantry, advancing 
as it gained ground, and falling back with it as 
the Austrians pushed the Prussians Northwards. At 
noon the squadron was placed in a hollow road 400 
yards to the South-west of Benatek, in order to avoid 
artillery fire. Captain von Humbert, and his senior 
subaltern, Count von der Schulenburg, sitting on 
the hill above. At 1.15 p.m. they saw a body of 
Austrian infantry straggling out of the wood ; they 
had thrust aside the Prussians opposed to them, and, 
unconscious of the proximity of other foes, were 
** marching at ease," with muskets *'at the slope." 
All this was noted by Captain von Humbert, who, 
with his subaltern, had ridden forward from the hill 
to reconnoitre the advancing enemy. 

The Prussian officers, returning to the hill, formed 
up the squadron in perfect silence, and just as the 
head of the third battalion sist regiment (Prince 
Charles Ferdinand) turned to occupy some scattered, 
low-lying, timber-fenced orchards, von Humbert 
led his squadron, with closed ranks, at the gallop, 
against the foe. With shouts of "Ground arms — 



174. ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 3,1866. 

Surrender," the Hussars dashed on. A few officers, 
entirely taken by surprise, obeyed ; their example 
was quickly followed by some of the Rank and File, 
and in a few minutes every musket was on the ground. 
The infantry men were then ordered to " Stand clear " 
of their muskets, and were marched to the village of 
Benatek, which by this time was in flames. TKe 
squadron of the loth Hussars claims to have captured 
a Colour and 681 officers and men. This is from 
the Prussian official account. There is no official 
Austrian account of this incident, so far as I am 
aware, and the Regimental History of the Austrian 
corps, though in course of preparation, has not, up to 
date,* been published ; but it is believed at Vienna 
that some of the prisoners were taken at different 
periods and handed over to the first squadron loth 
Hussars to be escorted to the rear. The fact, how- 
ever, cannot be gainsaid that a squadron captured a 
battalion and a Colour. 

Prince Kraft of Hohenlohe Ingelfingen, asserts that 
the squadron numbered only loi sabres. This is not 
likely to have been the case, for it took the field 
150 strong, and its casualties were not more than 
half a dozen up to the 3rd July. Although it had 
doubtless been called on to detail orderlies and other 
extra duty men, it had probably 130 in the Ranks. 

When the captured battalion marched off, not a 
man on either side had received a scratch, but 
now Lieutenant Count von der Schulenburg, seeing 
another Colour just inside the wood, made a dash 
for it, being followed by a few Hussars, but he fell, 
mortally wounded by some Austrian infantry firing 
from behind trees, and being carried off by his men, 
died four days later. 

* 30th September. 



No. X. 



TOBITSCHAU, 

1 5 /A July^ 1866. 



No. X. 

TOBITSCHAU, i^th July, 1866. 

Three Frussian squadrons attack batteries in position, 

and capture 18 guns. 

This feat was achieved twelve days after the decisive 
battle of Koniggratz, when the defeated Austrians 
were moving Southwards from Olmutz. ' 

When, at sunset on the 3rd July, 1866, the Austrian 
army retreated from the disastrous field of Konig- 
gratz, the victorious Prussians were too much ex- 
hausted to follow up their success, the full extent 
of which, moreover, they at first scarcely realized. 
The greater part of the Prussian infantry, marching 
throughout the previous night, had covered sixteen 
miles ; some divisions had been under arms nineteen 
hours before the battle commenced, and many had 
been in action for upwards of ten hours. None of 
the men had cooked on the 3rd : very few had any 
food with them; neither had the horses been fed 
during the day. Moreover, the success attained by 
the concentric movements of the Prussian armies had 
the effect of crowding and mingling together their 
Army Corps, and the 4th July was necessarily spent 
in rationing, and reforming them. 

The bridges at Pardubitz and Koniggratz, together 
with those which the Austrian Field-marshal had 

N 



July IS, i866.] TOBITSCHAU. 179 

thrown across the Elbe above that fortress, enabled 
his troops to cross the river without difficulty. One 
Corps and the greater part of the cavalry fell back 
directly on Vienna, while the bulk of his army moved 
on Olmiitz ; the Austrian Head^quarters remaining 
in Zwittau, about fifty miles from the battle-field, until 
mid-day on the 7th July. 

On the 6th July, von Hartman's cavalry division, 
preceding the Second Army (Crown Prince's), reached 
the Koniggratz-Zwittau road, but it was not until the 
8th that touch with formed bodies of the enemy was 
regained. Even then it was not known at the 
Prussian Head-quarters what numbers of Austrians 
had retreated on Vienna and Olmiitz respectively. 

On the nth July the Austrian Corps which had 
concentrated at Olmiitz were ordered to retreat to 
Vienna. The Crown Prince's army had been held 
back to guard against any offensive movement of the 
Austrians from Olmiitz, but on the nth, although 
their intended further retreat was unknown to the 
Prussians, yet the King approved of the Prince's 
request to move his army Southwards. 

On the loth and nth July von Hartman's cavalry 
division was allowed to halt. It had covered ninety- 
seven miles in three successive days. Exclusive of 
lame and sick horses, one-fourth of the division was 
unfit to move until the horses had rested. One- 
third of the horses of a Landwehr brigade were 
lame, chiefly owing to want of shoes. The ground 
over which the division had marched varied, being 
sometimes very hard and stony, sometimes of deep, 
and occasionally stiff clay soil ; and, owing to the many 
hours the division was on the march, there was no 
opportunity for shoeing up the horses. The cavalry 



^ 



1 80 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 

regiment, with the deeds of which we are immediately 
concerned, had covered two hundred miles in seven 
consecutive days, and had bivouaced daily, often in 
heavy rain. On the 1 3th July von Hartman's division 
was billeted in and around Konitz, twenty-five miles 
due West of Olmiitz, Germans, as practical soldiers, 
preferring the worst billet to the best bivouac. 

By the 14th July the Austrians, using the railway, 
and the roads on either side of the river March, had 
moved three Corps from Olmiitz to Vienna. On that 
date one Corps passed through Tobitschau, which is 
twelve miles South of Olmiitz, and rea^ched Kojetein, 
seven miles South of Tobitschau. 

The same day von Hartman, writing from Prossnitz, 
where he had arrived with his advanced guard, 
reported the movement of considerable forces on the 
Olmiitz-Tobitschau road, and stated further that two 
cavalry regiments, which had been at Prossnitz since 
early in the morning, were still in his front. He asked 
for a reinforcement of infantry, with which he proposed 
to occupy either Dub, or Prerau, and thus inter- 
cept the retreat of the enemy.* After waiting some 
hours for an answer, he rode back from Kosteletz, 
his headquarters, to Neustift to personally urge his 
request with General Steinmetz, who, in forwarding 
von Hartman's report to the Crown Prince at Konitz, 
added that he had authorized the advance to Prerau, 
and suggested that infantry should be sent in support 
from the 1st Army Corps, which was nearer to Prerau 
than any of his own troops. 

The Crown Prince received these reports on the 
afternoon of the 14th July, when riding over from 

* See map at end of chapter. 



i866.] TOBITSCHAU. l8l 

Konitz to Neustift to personally present the Order of 
the Black Eagle to General von Steinmetz. The Prince 
at once gave orders for the 1st Army Corps to send 
a brigade of infantry and a battery to occupy the 
bridges at Tobitschau and Traubeck that evening, in 
order to support the cavalry moving on Prerau, and 
if necessary to cover their retreat. These orders were 
not received until 10.30 p.m., so it was agreed by 
those who had to carry them out that the movement 
should be postponed till the 15th. During the after- 
noon of the 14th July there were skirmishes between 
the opposing cavalry forces North-east of Prossnitz, 
and in the dusk of the evening the ist Prussian 
Cuirassiers attacked two companies of an Austrian 
regiment about half a mile to the West of Biskupitz. 
The Austrians encountered on these occasions were 
troops covering the flank of the columns marching on 
the road, Olmiitz-Dub-Tobitschau. 

Von Benedek received a telegram on the 14th from 
the Archduke Albrecht, who had been appointed 
Commander-in-chief on the 13th, enjoining that care 
should be taken to protect the right flank of the 
column moving on the Olmiitz-Dub-Tobitschau road, 
but the Field-marshal, failing to realize the adven- 
turous spirit of the Prussian cavalry, considered he 

had already done all that was necessary for this 
purpose. 

The head of the 8th Corps marched from Olmiitz 

at 2 a.m. on the iSth, and was intended to move 

" closed up," and to reach Kojetein, seven miles South 

of Tobitschau, that evening. It was followed at 

intervals of half an hour by the Corps artillery, 

Hospital, and Supply columns, the light baggage 



1 82 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 

only of the combatant troops following them on the 
Dub-Tobitschau road. 

General von Matloki, commanding the Prussian 
infantry brigade detailed to support the cavalry, 
marching at 4 a.m., by Prossnitz and Kralitz, reached 
Hrubschitz before the Horsemen. A squadron of 
another cavalry division reported to him here, and, 
preceding the brigade, soon discovered the enemy 
to be in possession of Tobitschau. From a hill near 
Hrubschitz, General Matloki saw a long column of 
the enemy moving through Dub on Tobitschau. 
This was Rothkirch's, the leading brigade of the 8th 
Corps. Its right flank was protected by two com- 
panies which were marching on the left bank of the 
Blatta river, but they had not apparently noticed the 
advance of the Prussians. Matloki now quickened his 
pace in order to carry Tobitschau before the enemy's 
column could reach it When the advanced com- 
panies of Matloki's brigade reached the river they 
found the Wiklitzer Hof, and Klopotowitz unoccupied^ 
but the bridge over the river near the former farm 
was barricaded. In spite of the fire of Austrian 
skirmishers posted behind a fence on the river bank^ 
the barricade was removed, and another company 
having forded the river lower down, and outflanking 
the Austrian skirmishers, compelled them to with- 
draw. Further progress was, however, arrested by 
formed troops lining the fences around a thick wood 
which was strongly occupied, and from under the 
Cover of which counter-attacks were made on the 
i^russian infantry. 

When General Rothkirch's troops were attacked 
he asked for the help of the Reserve artillery, and 



i866.] TOBITSCHAir. 1 83 

sixteen guns soon opened fire from a position 500 
yards North-east of the wood, on the battery accom- 
panying Matloki's brigade. These guns were joined 
somewhat later by the two batteries of the cavalry 
division. The Austrians then brought up another 
battery, and a company of the left leading Prussian 
battalion (4th regiment) was directed to attack the 
guns. It crossed the river, and creeping up to the 
batteries, in spite of the case-shot directed on the men j 
compelled them to withdraw. The company now 
came under the fire of its own artillery, to avoid 
which it entered the wood, taking part in the attack 
which was then being made on the Austrians in it 
from its Southern end. The atmosphere being thick 
and heavy with moisture, the smoke hung low, and 
obscured the view of the country near the wood. 
Under cover of the smoke the Austrians attempted 
to retake the wood, but failed. There was now a 
pause in the infantry fight in this part of the field ; 
but during the struggle for the possession of the wood 
half a Prussian battalion had moved directly against 
Tobitschau. 

When the smoke cleared off it was seen that 
the Austrians had taken up a fresh position. The 
infantry were standing in columns covered by thick 
lines of skirmishers. The artillery, having retired, 
was in position on the 'West side of the roadj with 
its left flank at the bend of the road North of 
the chapel, which stands at the Northern end of 
Tobitschau, 

At 10.30 a.m. the Prussians attacked the Austrians 
in front and flank, and after a sharp struggle com- 
pelled them to retire. They suflfered heavily ^s they 



1 84 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 

retreated partly Northwards towards Wierowan, and 
partly across the mill-stream in the direction of 
the Opleta Wood. The Austrian artillery, although 
enfiladed by a Prussian battery, which opened from 
a position East of the high road, and in a line with 
the North side of it, remained in action, covering 
the retreat Now, however, the same company 
(4th regiment) which had previously attacked the 
artillery, assisted by another company (44th rai- 
ment), crept up to the Austrian batteries and caused 
them to withdraw. Some of them retreated to the 
left bank of the river March, but twenty guns 
took up a fresh position on the hill West of 
Wierowan. 

Description of the Ground where the Guns were 
captured. — Near Tobitschau the Blatta and several 
other smaller streams join the March river, and there 
is a general fall in the ground from Dub to the South- 
ward. From the hill near Wierowan a long spur 
runs Westward to the Blatta at Biskupitz, the saddle- 
like feature on which the Austrian artillery were pre- 
sently captured being twenty-five feet above the river. 
Though in the valley some meadow-lands are fenced, 
the richly cultivated and unharvested fields on the 
spur and saddle near Wierowan were not enclosed by 
fences of any description. The ditches, however, on 
either side of the Dub-Tobitschau road are two feet 
deep and two feet broad. 

The banks of the Blatta are marked by willows 
from four to five feet in height The stream, in spite 
of its very muddy bottom, is fordable in places 
except after rain ; but on the day of the action, 
though it was forded near Tobitschau, it was six 



1866.] TOBITSCHAU. 1 85 

feet deep near Biskupitz, and from six to twenty 
feet broad, the banks being level with the water 
in some places, and five feet higher in other parts. 
The meadows on the Western side of the river are 
traversed by a brook twelve feet broad and three 
feet deep. The fragile bridle-bridge, half a mile 
down stream from Biskupitz, over which, in order to 
capture the batteries, the Cuirassiers passed in single 
file, is hidden by a small wood from the Wierowan 
position, and the undulating features of the ground 
assisted greatly the Prussians' hazardous attack by 
concealing the daring horsemen until they were 
within 200 yards of the guns. 

When General von Hartman, passing to the North 
of his batteries in action, reached Klopotowitz, he 
ordered the Cuirassier brigade, which was leading, 
to reconnoitre the river bank, and find a crossing 
place. This duty fell to the 5th Cuirassiers, whose 
commanding officer, Major von Bredow, sent the 
4th squadron to the front, following himself with 
the 2nd and ist squadrons. The 3rd squadron had 
been previously sent to reconnoitre to the South 
of Klopotowitz. When the 4th, or leading, squadron 
reached the river bank, it was met by Lieutenant 
von Rosenberg, who had been across the stream 
reconnoitring. He pointed out the light bridge he 
had found 700 yards South of Biskupitz, and reported 
that the Austrian batteries in position to the West 
of Wierowan had apparently no escort. 

The 2nd squadron was the first to cross over the 
bridge, passable in single file only, and formed up 200 
yards South of it, while its leading section extended 
.in the direction of the batteries. As soon as the 1st, 
or rear squadron was across, one troop was detached 



1 86 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 

from it in a Northerly direction towards Dub, to cover 
the left flank, for Major von Bredovsr had determined 
to attack at once. While the 2nd and ist squadrons 
crossed the bridge the leading troop * of the Contact 
squadron fired on the Austrian batteries from under 
cover of a field of poppies then in full bloom. The 
Austrian gunners at first imagined the individual 
horsemen they saw on their right front were Austrian 
cavalry, but just before the charge they fired a few 
rounds at the troop of Cuirassiers skirmishing in 
their front. 

When all three squadrons (strength about 400 
sabres) were across the river, von Bredow, who had 
formed up under the cover of a fold of the ground, 
advanced in squadron columns, the 2nd squadron 
leading, the 4th squadron in support on the left flank, 
and the ist squadron in reserve in rear of the right 
flank. The 2nd squadron, followed by four troops 
of the 4th squadron, moved at the gallop at first 
in a North-easterly direction, ascending a shallow 
valley out of sight of the enemy. When it got 
within 500 yards of the right flank of the Austrian 
guns, the order was given, " Front turn, in extended 
order — Charge," and the horsemen entered the bat- 
teries directly in their front At the same moment 
the 4th troop of the 4th squadron attacked directly 
to its front from the poppy field, striking the left 
flank of the Austrian guns, while the ist squadron 
advanced in echelon as a reserve, so as to meet any 
possible attack by the Austrian supports. 

In a few minutes the squadrons were inside the 

* By order of the general commanding the cavalry division, the 
squadrons 5th Cuirassiers were, prior to crossing the Austrian frontier, 
divided into five troops, the horses received from farmers on mobilisa- 
tion forming the 5th troop. 



i866.] TOBITSCHAU. 1 87 

batteries, two guns only of which had time to fire 
one round of case-shot when the impending attack 
was perceived. One battery which had not yet un- 
limbered made off at once, and some of the guns iii 
action on the left limbered up and retreated, till 
they were stopped by the ditch bordering the road. 
A few teams galloped off without "limbering up." 
All the guns, however, except two which managed to 
escape, were eventually taken, in spite of a determined 
resistance on the part of the detachments. A half- 
company, numbering seventy all Ranks, acting as 
escort, was ridden over, cut down or taken prisoners, 
with the exception of one section, which, holding 
together, escaped, and rejoined the two guns, and 
these, having evaded capture, bravely reopened fire* 
Von Bredow now dismounting two squadrons, ordered 
them to prepare to carry off the guns. While they 
were thus employed, the Austrian Headquarter escort, 
advancing through Nenakowitz to retake the guns, 
was attacked by the ist squadron, led by vOn Bredow 
himself, and driven back with a loss of some prisoners. 
The regiment took 18 guns (one so disabled that 
it was necessarily left on the field), 15 limbers, 
7 ammunition waggons, 2 officers, 168 artillery- 
men, 230 of other corps, and 157 horses; while its 
own casualties were only 10 privates and 6 horses 
wounded, and 12 horses killed. By li a.m. von 
Hartman's division assembled on the left bank of 
the Blatta, and supported the infantry attack on 
Wierowan, and in the mean time arrangements were 
made for sending forward infantry in country carts 
to support the cavalry advance on Prerau. By 
nightfall the Austrians were pushed back over the 
March river. 



1 88 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 

Comments, — This action shows how difficult it is 
for artillery, in broken ground, when unprovided with 
escort, to repulse a determined cavalry attack ; but 
there are several other valuable lessons to be learnt 
in the handling of the opposing forces, from circum- 
stances incidental to this brilliant and successful 
charge. 

I have been unable to ascertain the reasons which 
induced von Field-marshal Benedek to move not only 
the Reserve artillery (8th Corps), but also the Hospital 
trains, on the Western, or exposed bank of the March 
river. The road is better than that on the Eastern 
bank, but this hardly justified the risk incurred by 
crowding vehicles on it If it were desirable to run 
such risk, an adequate escort should have been de- 
tailed, and arrangements made for the Command, and 
the Staff duties of all troops on the road, for, from 
want of such, there were many gaps in the columns. 
These were caused to some extent by the waggon 
train, which had been ordered to move on the Eastern 
bank of the river March, missing its road and cutting 
into the column of route of the 8th Corps. More- 
over the three squadrons of Lancers preceding the 
march of the 8th Austrian Corps were at Anna- 
dorf. South of Tobitschau, when Matloki's brigade 
approached that place, and, although they scouted 
in a South-westerly direction, they nevertheless failed 
to report the advance of the Prussians from the North- 
west, On the 3rd July the Austrian cavalry had given 
proofs of the most devoted courage in covering re- 
treating infantry, but it is evident their reconnoitring 
duties on the 15th July were badly done. 

General Rothkirch had seen General Matloki's 
force when it was approaching Klopotowitz, but 



1866] TOBITSCHAU. 1 89 

mistook it for von Kreysern's cavalry brigade, 
which had been ordered to cover his right flank. 
Von Kreysern was, however, at that moment near 
Seilendorf, seven miles to the North-eastward, or in 
the right rear. The Austrian official account * com- 
plains of the absence of information from the cavalry. 
Benedek overtook the Hospital train and Corps 
artillery, near Dub, between 9 and 10 a.m., whence 
he witnessed the struggle between Rothkirch's and 
Matloki's brigades. The Field-marshal and his Staff 
saw the Prussian Cuirassiers advance from Klopoto- 
witz and disappear in the low ground near the river, 
and assumed that the troops near Wierowan must also 
have seen them. The weak infantry escort, seventy 
of all Ranks, was too far back in rear to influence the 
fight for the guns. If it had been posted on the hill 
overlooking the Blatta, the Prussian cavalry could 
scarcely have crossed the river. The Head-quarter 
cavalry escort, which if sent forward earlier might 
possibly have saved the batteries, came up after 
they were taken. 

On the Prussian side we nptice that a very enter- 
prising cavalry Leader, of a division, urged he might 
be supported by infantry ere he crossed rivers over 
which he might have to retreat. We read also that a 
cavalry regiment having been detached to the front, 
its commanding officer there grasps a favourable 
opportunity for attack, and disregarding all risks 
attendant on it, passes a regiment by single file over 
a rotten bridle-bridge spanning an unfordable river, 
with no assured line of retreat available. There was 
no sending back for orders, and the general, who knew 

* Used partly in this narrative. 



190 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [July 15, 1866. 

his man, and who was watching his advance across 
the river, at once divined his intentions, and by open- 
ing a rapid fire on the Austrian gunners, diverted 
their attention from the impending attack. 

Finally, we see how a startling success was ob- 
tained with trifling loss to the victors, by a skilful, 
resolute Leader, who knew how to utilize broken 
ground, and whose soldiers followed as bravely as 
he led. 





schi 




I TOBn 



i 



No. XL 



MARS-LA-TOUR, 

i6/>6 August y 1870. 



i 



No, XL 
MARS-LA-TOUR, \6th August, 1870. 

A cavalry regiment, indth self-sacrificing devotion, extri- 
cates a defeated infantry brigade, saves several 
batteries of artillery, and checks the advance of 
5000 men.* 

The decisive victory of Koniggratz placed Prussia 
in the position of the first military Power, and this 
irritated France, since it displaced her from that 
proud position. There was, moreover, an additional 
grievance in the minds of the leading men in Paris, 
who had gathered from the speeches of Prussian 
diplomatists that France, in return for her neutrality 
during the war of 1866, and the efforts of her Rulers 
to bring about a satisfactory peace, would receive 
some actual compensation of territory. 

The year after the conclusion of the war between 
Prussia and Austria, the King of Holland, as Duke 
of Luxembourg, offered to sell that territory to 
France, in spite of a strong protest made by Prussia. 
The British minister, however, intervened, and in 
consequence of his diplomacy, Luxembourg became 
a neutral State, and thus for a time war was averted. 

In 1870, however, a fresh cause of offence was 
given, when a Hohenzollern prince was nominated 

* In estimating these numbers I assume a strength five per centum 
less than that with which the troops took the field. 

O 



194 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

for the then vacant Spanish throne. Now, although 
France had everything to gain from delay, yet her 
principal ministers allowed the Press to goad the 
people into a warlike spirit, and a somewhat insulting 
demand was addressed to the King of Prussia, to the 
effect that he should disapprove of the action of the 
prince for having accepted the throne without his 
previous permission, and order him to withdraw his 
candidature. This the king refused to do, and on the 
nth July, when the same demand was renewed in 
a more pressing fashion, it was again refused. Later 
in the day it transpired that the prince had withdrawn 
his candidature. The King of Prussia notified this 
fact to the French Ambassador, Count Benedetti, 
causing him to be informed that he, the king, now 
considered the matter at an end ; but, on the evening 
of the 1 2th, the French Cabinet telegraphed to their 
representative, " It is necessary that the king should 
assure us that he will not again authorize this candi- 
dature"; and when, on the 13th, Count Benedetti 
sought a second audience on the same subject with 
the king, he was referred to the Prussian Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, Benedetti left for Paris on the 
14th July, and at 3 p.m. the same day an order was 
issued calling out the French Reserves. Action was, 
however, postponed till early next day, but on the 
19th the French representative with the Prussian 
Government presented a Declaration of war, and this 
was done before any concentration of the French 
army had been effected 1 

The Emperor's plan assumed that the strength of 
the field army with which the French would have to 
deal might be taken as 550,000 men, while their own 
might be reckoned as 300,000, but he hoped that by 



i870.] MARS-LA-TOUR, I9S 

rapid movements he might cross the Upper Rhine, 
separate South and North Germany, and thus have 
to encounter only 350,000 combatants. It was an- 
ticipated that, if Prussia could be isolated, at the 
first success, Austria and Italy would join France. 
There were, however, grave miscalculations in all 
these plans. 

The field army of Prussia amounted to 520,000 
men, with 1500 guns; while the greatest number 
that the French were able to bring into line was 
260,000 men. Although there was a total of 
nearly 4000 rifled-cannon and machine-guns, yet 
there were only men and horses for 164 batteries, 
of which, when the war broke out, 10 were still in 
Algeria and Civita Vecchia, and in the result only 
924 pieces, including machine guns, were sent into the 
field. This enumeration, however, tells but little of 
the vast disparity in efficiency between the opposing 
forces. The French army was not only but half as 
strong as its opponents, but each day after the 19th 
July showed its appalling want of preparation. The 
railways, overburdened with men and stores, were 
unable to transport the Reservists to the depdts, or 
from thence to the troops. Numberless mistakes 
occurred, and a graphic proof of the confusion is 
shown by the following telegram from the Commander 
of the territorial district at Marseilles, to the War 
Minister: "9000 Reservists here. I do not know 
what to do with them. In order to gain room, 
propose to ship them on board transports now in 
harbour, and send to Algeria." 

It is not, then, astonishing that we find the 
Reserves joined their battalions without being pro- 
perly equipped ; and that many of them were without 



196 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 16, 

cooking utensils, water bottles, or tentes dabri.^ 
Moreover, it was not only the Combatant branches 
which were without organization, but the Auxiliary 
services were in the same condition, and both Corps 
and Regimental transport was incomplete. There 
was a deficiency as regards Horses, Ambulances, 
Commissariat Transport, Bearer companies, and 
Veterinary surgeons, many of the divisions having 
none at all. A great part of the harness of the 
Artillery train did not fit the horses, and at many 
stations there was no machine-gun equipment The 
troops hurried forward to the frontier were given 
considerable quantities of maps, but only of the 
country East of the Rhine, and none were provided 
for the French frontier districts, where all the fighting 
occurred during the first month. 

Not only was the Field army deficient of warlike 
stores and food stuffs, but the great fortresses, such 
as Metz, M^zifcres, and Sedan, were short of biscuit 
and preserved meat. When, on the 28th July, ten 
days after the declaration of war, the Emperor, 
Napoleon III., arrived at Metz, he realized that 
his army of 260,000 men, spread along the frontier 
from Belfort in the South to Tionville in the North, 
on a frontage of about 1 50 miles, was in no condition 
to advance, and that it was necessary to resign the  

initiative to his opponents. Nothing, however, was » 

done at first to draw the French corps closer \ 

together, and on the 4th August the first disaster, 
that at Wissembourg, occurred to a portion of 
McMahon's command, which two days later was 
utterly defeated at Worth. On the same day the j 

French were driven back, by numerically inferior 

 Shelter tents. 



\ 



1870J MARS-LA-TOUR. I97 

forces, from Spicheren, near Saarbriick, and, eight 
days later, although for a time the French held the 
advantage at Bomy — an action fought three miles to 
the Eastward of the fortress of Metz — yet the result 
was the same, for the retirement was resumed at 
nightfall. The Achievements I am now about to 
describe occurred two days later, to the Westward of 
Metz, where numerically inferior infantry and cavalry 
of Prussia, by audacious tactics, delayed the retire- 
ment of the French army until it could be overtaken 
by the German Army Corps coming up from the 
Southward. 

On the morning of the i6th August, 1870, the 
French army was awaiting orders to resume its 
march towards Verdun, when, at 9 a.m., General von 
Alvensleben, arriving from the Moselle with Horse 
artillery batteries, opened fire from the hill near 
Tronville, on the French camps. From that hour 
till 6 p.m. the Germans fought against enormously 
superior numbers. Till late in the afternoon the 
struggle had been carried on by the Germans mainly 
with artillery, but about 5.30 p.m. the ist Dragoon 
Guards regiment was called on to sacrifice itself, 
under the following circumstances, in order to save 
the positions on the left of the French position : — 

The 38th infantry brigade had arrived at Mars-la- 
Tour,* after a march of twenty-seven miles. Having 
rested an hour, it went forward at 5 p.m. to attack 
the French troops in position to the North-east of 
that village. The Commanders on either side, in this 
part of the field, regarded the course of the battle 
at this hour in different aspects, for while General 

* See map, No. XIX., at end of chapter xii. 



198 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

L'Admirault imagined that he was barely in sufficient 
strength to maintain his position, General von Voights 
Rhetz considered that the dangerous situation of the 
troops in and about the Tronville copses necessitated 
a demonstration being made to the Westward of those 
woods. 

Description of the Ground. — The country about 
Mars-la-Tour may be described generally as an undu- 
lating plain. Immediately to the East and North- 
east of the village there were small fields fenced 
by insignificant ditches, but with hedges sufficiently 
thick to break the formation of troops, and oblige them 
to pass these obstacles at gaps and other openings. 
Further from the village the fields were unfenced, 
but some were at this time covered with standing 
crops about five feet in height, while on others the 
cut corn was standing in shocks. About a mile 
and a half North of Mars-la-Tour, a ravine with 
steep sides runs East and West, in some places nearly 
fifty feet deep. 

When the 38th infantry brigade went forward, the 
batteries, which had already been some time in action 
on both flanks, supported its advance. The batteries 
on the right were protected by two squadrons of the 
4th Cuirassiers, while the ist Dragoon Guards regi- 
ment had been left as an escort to the batteries in 
action to the Eastward of Mars-la-Tour. Although 
the infantry came under a hot fire immediately they 
reached the bare hill to the North-east of the village^ 
in spite of it, the firing line advanced quickly by rushes 
of alternate units, and at first without serious loss. 
As they descended the Northern slope of the hill, how- 
ever, and from thence on until they reached the edge 
of the ravine, men fell thickly. This hollow had not 



I 



1870.] MARS-LA-TOUR. I99 

been reconnoitred, and the obstacle was unexpected. 
Nevertheless, encouraged by the Supports which had 
now joined the firing line, all five battalions, crossing 
without hesitation, surmounted the Northern crest. 
Here, however, the brigade came under fire of a line 
of infantry within one hundred yards' range. The 
struggle lasted but a few minutes, when the Prussians 
fell back through the ravine, to the Northern crest 
only of which the French followed. The Germans, 
exhausted by their previous efforts, failed in many 
cases to reascend ; several were shot down, and three 
hundred were made prisoners at one place. The 
brigade retreated on Tronville, and General von 
Brandenburg was directed to send forward his 
dragoons to cover the retreat, and save the artillery, 
which had remained in its advanced position to assist 
the overwhelmed infantry. 

About 6 p.m., when the feat I am about to describe 
was achieved, the following was the situation : — 

The remnants of the 38th brigade (65 out of 95 
officers, and 2600 other ranks out of 4500 had fallen) 
were retreating in confusion. The i6th regiment 
was broken up, and the 57th regiment was being 
closely pursued by the 13th, and 43rd French regi- 
ments, while a long line of French infantry stood on 
the Northern crest of the ravine with a battery of 
machine-guns on its right, or Western flank. Two 
miles to the right rear a cavalry division was seen 
forming up. The German batteries were still in action 
from 1000 to 1500 yards from the ravine, and were 
maintaining their position, although the French had 
got to within 400 yards of their guns.* When the 

 In some recent narratives the batteries are shown to have been in 
much more advanced positions. 



200 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

38th infantry brigade attacked there was absolutely 
no Reserve at Mars-Ia-Tour, except these batteries, 
and the cavalry regiment acting as their escort. 

The 1st Dragoon Guards had left its bivouac at 
Beaumont, 18 miles South-south-west of Mars-la-Tour, 
at 4.30 a.m., on the i6th August,* and picking up 
two squadrons which had been employed on out- 
post duty, marched by St Hilaire to Mars-la-Tour, 
about 35 miles, where the regiment arrived at 
1.30 p.m. It had twice moved up to the North- 
west of Mars-la-Tour to check the advance of French 
troops, but at 5 p.m. was in position, in support of 
artillery, to the Eastward of the village. 

It was about 5.30 p.m. when General von Voights 
Rhetz, galloping down the Vionville road from Tron- 
ville, accosted General Count von Brandenburg, com- 
manding the 3rd Guard cavalry brigade, and ordered 
an attack. Von Brandenburg pointed out that he 
had only one regiment at his disposal, the other 
having been detached to the Westward. He urged, 
moreover, that if he was bound to attack, the moment 
for delivering the charge should be left to him, as he 
had now in his front a very large force of the enemy 
in compact formation. Voights Rhetz answered, " I 
don't expect the regiment to succeed, but if it can 
only check the enemy's advance, and give us ten 
minutes' breathing time, it will have fulfilled its 
mission, even if it falls to the last man." Von 
Brandenburg rode up to the regiment, and explain- 
ing briefiy but clearly the order, and the situation 
which necessitated the sacrifice, exclaimed, " God be 
with you, colonel ! I shall accompany you." The 
adjutant, who had gone forward to reconnoitre, at 

* See map, No. XIX., at end of chapter xii. 



J 



i87a] MARS-LA-TOUR. 201 

this moment returned, and reported the position of 
the advancing foe, and the difficulties to be antici- 
pated in crossing the fields near the village. 

Colonel von Auserwald, who had previously sent 
out ground scouts, leaving the fourth squadron with 
the guns, and in charge of the regimental Standard, 
moved off in column of divisions * at the trot, the 
fifth squadron leading, followed by the third, and 
lastly, the first squadron — in all 426 sabres. 

Coming under the fire of the battery of machine- 
guns in action on the Northern side of the ravine 
above-mentioned, the regiment was further em- 
barrassed by the difficulty in getting over the fences, 
and thus formation and distances were lost, in spite 
of all efforts to keep the regiment together. When 
the head of the leading squadron was clear of the 
broken ground, it moved at first nearly due North 
across the front of the advancing line, as if to 
gain the right fiank of its foes. The regiment wa^ 
threatened on the left front by the advance of the 
5 th battalion of French Rifles, while clouds of skir- 
mishers who were preceding the 13th regiment fired 
into it from the right, at 600 yards' range. The head 
of the column had scarcely cleared the fenced-in 
fields when the colonel sounded the gallop, which was 
continued till No. i — i,e. the rearmost squadron — 
had got into the open, when the troops wheeled 
into line by sound of trumpet, and advanced directly 
on the 13th regiment. The three battalions com- 
posing it were moving forward, covered by skir- 
mishers, and were followed at fifty paces distance by 
the 43rd regiment. The Dragoons now for the first 
time began to fall rapidly under the close and 

* Equivalent to column of troops to-day. 



202 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

heavy fire poured in on them from all sides. The 
Brigadier-general, Count von Brandenberg, accom- 
panied the right squadron, which had its right aligned 
on the St. Marcel track, to the Southward of which 
rode two squadrons of the 4th Cuirassiers. These 
two squadrons, which had been acting as escort to 
the batteries in action to the West of the TronviUe 
copses, moved forward in direct echelon to the ist 
Dragoon Guards ; but coming under an overwhelming 
machine-gun and rifle fire, did not penetrate the 
enemy's ranks. Their charge, however, extricated 
a German battery which must otherwise have been 
taken. Meanwhile the ist Dragoons increased their 
pace, and rode over the French skirmishers, who either 
ran in on the 13th regiment, or threw themselves 
on the ground.* Both lines formed groups, firing 
two volleys before the horsemen reached them, the 
infantry remaining calm, and under perfect control. 

When Colonel von Auserwald was within eighty 
yards of the 13th regiment (riding himself with his 
Staff well in front of the advancing squadrons), he 
sounded the charge, and the men, cheering, closed on 
the enemy. At this moment the colonel, major, 
and all three squadron leaders were either killed or 
mortally wounded, but the dust and smoke was so 
thick, that those men of the squadrons who escaped 
the volleys, disappeared from the sight of both friends 
and foes. 

That the squadron leaders not only led, but com- 
manded their men is manifest. The fifth squadron 
leader, Captain Prince Reuss, when near the hostile 

* When in another charge further to the Westward Dragoons were 
unable to reach with their swords the agile French infantry soldiers 
extended on the ground, there were frequent shouts amongst the 
German horsemen to call up Lancer regiments. 



i870.] MARS-LA-TOUR. 203 

lines, and riding sixty paces in front, was seen to 
turn several times in the saddle, and signal with his 
sword for the left flank to come up. Just before 
the men closed with their foes, he, giving a loud 
cheer, dashed into one of the French groups and fell 
dead. Next morning his horse, badly wounded, was 
found standing close to the prince's body. 

Some of those who escaped rejoined only after 
midnight at Xonville, to which place, four miles in 
rear, the regiment retired to get water for the horses. 
Many of the survivors, however, rallied to the South- 
west of Mars-la-Tour at sunset, but practically with- 
out leaders, who were nearly all left extended on the 
field. The colonel reached the Rallying point, and 
was just able to thank the survivors, and hand over 
the command of the regiment to the captain com- 
manding the squadron in reserve, ere, a dying man, 
he was helped off his horse. The three squadrons 
lost fifteen officers and 123 other ranks, and 216 horses 
killed or wounded. This loss, though heavy, was 
well worth the sacrifice, for it enabled the shattered 
38th infantry brigade to rally ; the French advance 
was arrested, and the Prussian batteries were enabled 
to withdraw South of the Vionville-Mars-la-Tour road, 
whence they again opened fire on the French, who 
retired to the Northern bank of the ravine. 

Comments. — This is a remarkable instance of coni- 
bined tactics. All three Arms were employed. The 
infantry was used recklessly. The artillery and 
cavalry were deliberately sacrificed to the advantage 
of the army, and of the wisdom of this sacrifice there 
can be no doubt. The artillery helped to extricate 
the infantry, and were in turn saved by the heroic 



204 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 1870. 

devotion of three squadrons, whose charge stopped 
the advance of 5000 infantry, armed with the Chas- 
sepdt rifle, a good modern weapon. In spite of the 
heavy artillery and rifle fire, under which the advance 
and charge were executed, the fact that there were 
only 138 human casualties, shows the difiiculty of 
hitting a moving target in battle. The greatest 
loss occurred just before the horsemen reached the 
French groups, but several men were shot after they 
had passed through towards the rear. From the great 
diflerence in the casualties of men and horses, it 
appears, firstly, that the French fired steadily, and 
not over the heads of the men charging ; secondly, 
that the tendency is to fire at the horse instead of 
the rider, so as to get the larger target The smoke, 
dust, and general confusion favoured wounded and 
dismounted men, of whom many escaped. Some 
rode back safely down the ravine, notwithstanding 
both crests being occupied by the French. Though 
Colonel von Auserwald was niortally wounded, and 
within the French position, he rode back at the walk, 
and without being again hit 

The adjutant's horse, shot through the jaw, and 
through both hips, fell, as if dead, on its rider. He 
caught another horse, which dropped dead as he got 
into the saddle; and a third, on which he was fol- 
lowing up the charge, was killed. Late that night his 
own charger, which he had left as dead, found its way 
to the bivouac, and recovering, was some weeks after- 
wards again fit for duty. The adjutant escaped on 
foot to Mars-la-Tour, where he found, and appropri- 
ated, a vehicle standing without a driver, and thus 
rejoined the remnant of the regiment. 



No. XII. 
REZONVILLE, 

i6 th A ugusfj 1 8 70. 



I 



No. XII. 
REZONVILLE, 16//J August, 1870. 

Six squadrons charge in order to relieve overpo'wered 
infantry, and in wrecking six batteries and dispersing 
four battalions, check the advance of an Army Corps. 

Although many accounts of this grand deed, which 
took place on the i6th August, 1870, have been 
published, it is necessary, in order to render my 
narrative clear, that I should explain briefly the 
movements of the contending forces ; I shall, how- 
ever, endeavour to confine detailed descriptions of 
what occurred near Rezonville to the cavalry forces 
which were engaged around that village, and to 
those corps on which their attacks were made. 

Description of Ground. — The road from Metz to 
Verdun, passing by the villages of Rezonville, Vion- 
ville.and Mars-la-Tour,* runs through an open country, 
the fields being unfenced except near villages and 
farms. The villages named above, and Flavigny, 
stand in shallow valleys, located therein probably for 
convenience of water supply; the country around 
them is generally undulating, in some places hilly, 
and is intersected by hollows and watercourses. The 
summits of the hills are generally flattened or 
Mamelon-shaped. The ground slopes generally from 
East to West; a broad ridge running from North 
to South, forms the most commanding part of 

* See map. No. XIX., at end of chapter. 



208 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

the battle-field. This plateau is bounded : * On the 
North — hy "the old Roman road," and on the 
South — by the Bois de Vionville. The ridge, nar- 
rowing in breadth to a few hundred yards imme- 
diately West of Rezonville, sends out a spur for 
about three-quarters of a mile in a South-westerly 
direction, i,e. between Vionville and Flavigny. The 
battle-field, for the purpose of this narrative, is 
surrounded: On the North— by the "old Roman 
road " ; on the East — by the Jur^e brook, which runs 
from North to South, three-quarters of a mile to the 
Eastward of Rezonville ; on the South — ^by the woods 
which run close up to the cultivated ground, and 
cover the slopes of the ravines running down to the 
Moselle ; and on the West — ^by a North and South 
line drawn through Tronville. The copses of that 
name, which run in a North-westerly direction from 
Vionville, afforded good cover for the German cavalry 
in the early part of the day. They consist of two 
adjacent woods with much thick undergrowth. 
There is a broad open space dividing the South- 
western and smaller copse from the larger wood, in 
which there is a wide clearing which separates this 
thicket into two parts. The villages named above 
(Vionville had 400 inhabitants) contained massive 
stone-built houses standing close together, tile-roofed, 
and surrounded with orchards and gardens which 
are enclosed by walls and hedges — the isolated farms 
being similarly enclosed. The 'roads are generally 
sound and good. The depressions in the ground 
afforded cover from view, and the ditches on the 
Metz- Verdun roadside, though shallow, gave conceal- 
ment for riflemen. Except on pasture lands near 

* Sec map. No. XX., at end of chapter. 



i87a] REZONVILLE. 209 

the villages, the fields were laid down in roots and 
cereals. Some of the latter had been cut, but on 
others the harvest was still in shocks on the ground. 

The 1 6th August was bright and cloudless, and 
even by 9 a.m. it was oppressively hot, so that the 
German infantry suffered considerably in ascending 
the closed-in roads which lead up frpm the Moselle. 

It was intended that the 3rd cavalry division should 
cross the Moselle, below Metz, on the 13th August, 
and push out towards Briey, which is twelve miles 
North of Vionville, while the Sth cavalry division was 
directed to cross the river above the fortress, and 
gain the Metz- Verdun road, and it was thence to 
reconnoitre, and ascertain the movements of the 
French army. The 3rd division, from want of bridg- 
ing materials, failed to get over the Moselle, and was 
eventually employed elsewhere. The 5th division, 
commanded by Lieutenant-general von Rheinhaben, 
crossed, and on the night of the 14th August bivouaced, 
the 13th brigade (Redern) at Beney, the nth brigade 
(Barby) at Thiaucourt, and the 12th brigade (Bredow) 
at Pont k Mousson, being respectively 12, 14, and 18 
miles to the Southward of Vionville. 

IS^A August, — The leading infantry division loth 
Corps was intended to move on St. Hilaire, and the 
5 th cavalry division attached to it was to strike the 
Verdun road 15 miles West of Vionville, and then 
turn Eastward. Von Redern's brigade, which was 
leading, left one regiment at Beney, and marched at 
3.30 a.m. in a thick fog to Lachausse, whence two 
squadrons were sent towards the Metz-Verdun road. 
General von Barby halted his brigade (the nth) at 
Thiaucourt to await the arrival of von Bredow, 

p 



1 



2IO ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

sending one regiment to Dommartin, 8 miles South- 
west of Vionville, to protect von Redem's flank. 
While von Redem was awaiting the return of the 
squadrons sent Northwards, he reconnoitred towards 
Xonville, and was fired on by the flankers of Prince 
Murat's brigade (De Forton's cavalry division) then 
on the march from Metz to Mars-la-Tour. The 
French dragoons skirmished with von Redern's men, 
till a Prussian battery came up, and then retired, 
and the Germans, following on from the high ground, 
saw De Forton's division, with 12 guns, just then 
halting near Mars-la-Tour. Von Redern now retired 
three-quarters of a mile, and when his brigade, called 
up by the sound of the guns, had re-assembled, he 
advanced towards Mars-la-Tour, but again drew off 
without a fight. During this skirmish 2 squadrons of 
the nth Hussars rejoined von Redern; they had 
advanced by Buxi^res as far as Rezonville, and had 
captured 9 prisoners, whom they brought away, 
although pursued by some of Murat's brigade. 
Bredow's brigade (12th) had gone into bivouac at 
noon at Thiaucourt, when an orderly brought the 
news that the enemy was in force near Puxieux, 
10 miles distant. This place was reached at a rapid 
trot by two o'clock, by which time 34 squadrons 
and 2 Horse artillery batteries had assembled there, 
and bivouaced. The 1 2th brigade at Suzemont was 
astride of the high road 6J miles West of Vionville, 
and the nth (Barby) and the 13th brigades (von 
Redern) at Xonville — all covering their bivouacs with 
a quarter of their strength on outposts. The 12th 
brigade had been 12 hours in the saddle, had marched 
2.J miles, 10 being covered at a rapid pace, and 
neither men nor horses received any rations that day. 



i 



1870.] REZONVILLE. 2 1 1 

As the 5th cavalry division was intended to join 
hands with the 3rd cavalry division near Briey, and 
had not been informed of the failure of the latter 
to cross the Moselle, von Bredow when going into 
bivouac sent a squadron of the i6th Lancers by 
Mars-la-Tour to Jarny, four miles further North, 
whence the squadron was to send patrols to meet 
the expected patrols of the 3rd cavalry division. 
This squadron coming across Du Barail's cavalry 
division, retired, losing 16 men out of one troop,* 
and rejoined the regiment at 9 p.m. At 7 o'clock, 
as the 1st squadron had not returned the 2nd 
squadron advanced towards Vionville, as far as the 
Tronville hill, to look for it, and then halted in a 
hollow, whence patrols were sent towards Vionville, 
and the Tronville copses. These patrols were fired 
on from the Vionville-Tronville road, but ascertained 
that the copses were unoccupied. The squadron of 
the 7th Cuirassiers, on duty in support of the out- 
posts, now came forward, drove back the French, who 
were firing on the Lancers, and captured an artisan on 
his way to Verdun, who gave information of the move- 
ments of the French army which was subsequently 
proved to be accurate. The horses were not un- 
saddled, but the night passed without the cavalry 
division being further disturbed. 

While the German cavalry division had thus care- 
fully covered its front by outposts, the French, lying 
in bivouac immediately to the West of Vionville on 
either side of the high road, contented themselves as 
regards security by placing an outpost to the Westward 
close to their bivouac, and a squadron at Flavigny, a 
mile to the South-east of Vionville. De Forton 

* Quarter of a squadron. 



212 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

reported that he had successfully skirmished against 
cavalry supported by infantry in Puxieux, whereas 
the nearest German Infantry, i.e. the 38th brigade, 
was at Thiaucourty 10 miles further to the South. 

On the night of the 15th August the position of 
those portions of the French army with which we are 
concerned was as follows : — 

Du Barail's cavalry division had reached Jarny, 
four miles due North of Mars-la-Tour, De Forton's 
cavalry division was bivouaced at Vionville, Murat's 
brigade being North of the high road, and close to 
the Western side of the houses. The 6th Corps 
(Canrobert's) and the 2nd (Frossard*s) were West of 
Rezonville, and respectively North and South of the 
Metz-Verdun road. The Reserve artillery of the 2nd 
Corps was between Gravelotte and Rezonville, and 
the Guard reached Gravelotte after dark. The 
Emperor had anticipated that the army would be 
further advanced on its way to Verdun, but its march 
had been delayed by the crowded state of the roads 
leading out of Metz ; there were four available, but 
two roads only were used ; and there was futher delay 
caused by the leading columns waiting for the two 
Corps in the rear, which halted to replenish their 
supply of ammunition. Orders were issued for the 
troops to be ready to march at 4.30 a.m. on the i6th, 
and it was notified that they would probably en- 
counter, during the day, about 30,000 Germans. 

i6th August — At 5 a.m. orders were issued post- 
poning the move until the afternoon, and it was 
intimated that no attack was to be feared from the 
North or right flank, danger being anticipated only 
from the direction of Gorze. At 6 a.m. the Emperor 
left Gravelotte for Verdun, desiring Bazaine to march 



i87o] REZONVILLE. 213 

as soon as possible for that place. General Forton's 
division was saddled up ready to move at 5 o'clock, 
but the order was countermanded. The outposts 
twice reported the approach of the enemy's cavalry 
and artillery, but an officer of the Staff who was sent 
to verify these reports discredited their importance, 
and orders were consequently given in the Cavalry 
division for the men to cook, and to send three out 
of four squadrons in each regiment to water the 
horses. At 8.30 a.m. the Regimental commanders in 
the 2nd Corps (Frossard*s) received the following 
notices : ** Cavalry patrols have returned, and report 
no signs of the enemy in force. The troops can cook." 

General De Forton had several times ascended the 
crest of the hill under which the leading brigade of 
his division was bivouaced, and was there with Prince 
Murat at 8.40 a.m., when, seeing an attack was 
imminent, he sent an order for his artillery to come up 
to where he was standing. Before the order could be 
carried out,-he and the outpost squadron were obliged 
to retreat rapidly before the advancing Germans. 

The German Staff had assumed, from the fact of 
two French Corps only having fought at Borny to 
the Eastward of Metz on the 14th, and from all the 
indications gleaned from the outposts, that the French 
were retreating towards the Meuse as rapidly as 
possible. Von Moltke wrote on the iSth, " It is only 
by a vigorous offensive movement of the 2nd Army 
upon the road from Metz to Verdun, that we can 
reap the fruits of yesterday's victory." These views 
induced the movements of the 5th cavalry division 
shown above. General Rheinhaben reported on the 
evening of the 15th to General von Voights Rhetz, 
commanding the loth Army Corps, to which he 



214 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

was attached, his own strength and what had been 
seen of the French forces; and received orders to 
advance against the French outposts with all or part 
of his division, as he might judge best, after being 
strengthened by two Horse artillery batteries which 
Lieut-colonel Caprivi, Chief Staff officer, led up from 
Thiaucourt at 6 a.m., escorted by two squadrons 2nd 
Guard Dragoons, and one squadron i6th Hussars. 
These batteries worked with two others under com- 
mand of Major von Korber, and at 8.30 a.m. formed 
up with the 1 3th cavalry brigade, the men of which 
had been standing to the horses, near Puxieux, ready 
to advance since 6 a.m. The 12th brigade (von 
Bredow), also held in readiness since daybreak, formed 
up in two lines of squadron columns at 9 a.m. in 
the valley running North-west from Vionville, in 
which they were hidden from view. 

The Horse artillery now moved at the trot, covered 
by a battery, and three squadrons with double intervals, 
which marched 300 yards in front. The remainder 
of the 13th brigade (von' Redem) followed in rear 
of either flank, while the advanced guard regiment, 
getting into the low ground where the ravines from 
Gorze and Flavigny — running up to Vionville — meet, 
sent parties to the higher ground further to the 
Southward. Schirmer's, the advanced battery, came 
into action at the gallop on the high ground to the 
Eastward of Tronville, at 8.30 a.m. opening fire on 
Murat's bivouac at 1500 yards range, not a single 
French patrol having up to this time been seen. 
The other three batteries, coming up at full speed 
prolonged the line, the left resting on the Tronville- . 
Vionville road. The nth Hussars descended into 
the ravine behind the right rear of the batteries 



I 



1 870.] REZON VILLE. 2 1 5 

while the 17th Hussars, and two squadrons 2nd Guard 
Dragoons, took cover due North of Tronville. 

The first shell burst among some transport hired 
for the Reserve artillery, which made off as quickly 
as possible towards Metz. At this moment more 
country vehicles, carrying the baggage of De Forton's 
division, were coming from the Rear into the bivouac, 
and these waggons colliding with those retiring, pro- 
duced an inextricable confusion. The civilian drivers, 
becoming panic-stricken, cut the traces, and in a 
few moments the road and the fields on each side 
of it were covered by a flying crowd of cavalry and 
artillery soldiers, civilians, gendarmes, loose horses, 
and vehicles. In spite of the strenuous efforts of the 
Brigadier-general, the greater part of Murat*s brigade 
fled ; many did not pause in their headlong flight until 
they reached the post-office at Rezonville, and some 
galloped on until they were stopped by Bazaine's 
escort, which was waiting for the general to mount, 
outside his lodgings in Gravelotte. Most of those 
squadrons which, not having gone to the watering 
place, had been held in readiness for action galloped 
after their retreating comrades. The greater part 
of the two horse batteries of the division, in spite 
of the exertions of their officers, galloped to the 
rear with the dragoons, but eventually five guns 
were brought into action North-west of Vionville, 
covered by a squadron. These pieces were served 
mainly by officers and non-commissioned officers, till 
the impossibility of answering with five guns the 
fire of three batteries being manifest, General de 
Forton ordered them to be withdrawn under cover. 
This was done by hand by some volunteers of Murat*s 
brigade, who had stood firm in spite of the panic 



2l6 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

Du Gramont's Cuirassier brigade, which had bivouaced 
further to the Eastward, mounted in good order and 
retired to the vicinity of the Roman road. Vala- 
bregue's division, saddling up quickly, retired steadily 
to near Villers aux Bois. 

Major von Korber now advanced his batteries, and 
then again came into action on the high ground 
immediately to the West of Vionville where the 
Tronville-Mars-la-Tour roads meet, firing on French 
infantry near Flavigny at 1600 yards' range. The 
13th cavalry brigade accompanied the advance, and 
took up a position on the flanks, utilising as much 
cover as they could obtain. The 12th brigade moved 
at 9.45 a.m. to the gap East of the Tronville copses 

(857).* 

The nth brigade (von Barby), deducting two 

squadrons on detachment, and adding one squadron 

2nd Guard Dragoons attached, numbered eleven 

squadrons. It moved from Xonville at 9.30 a.m. in 

support of the 13th brigade, and after picking up the 

19th Dragoons, which had bivouaced at Puxieux, 

came into position South-west of Tronville at 10 a.m., 

just as von Korber's batteries opened from their second 

position near Vionville. The 13th brigade (von 

Redem) was then sent by von Rheinhaben towards 

Vionville, but it came under a heavy fire from the 

French batteries, which were by this time in action 

North-east of Vionville, and it then took up a sheltered 

position behind the Tronville copses. 

When Murat's brigade galloped to the Rear through 

the French infantry, the battalions stood to their 

arms unmoved by the flight of their cavalry comrades. 

An old sergeant 55th regiment, alluding to the notice 

 See map, No. XIX. 



t 

A 



1870.] REZONVILLE. 217 

which had just been read out that "the cavalry had 
returned from their reconnaissance," said sarcastically 
to his captain, " It appears they are returning rather 
fast." Frossard's Corps came briskly forward, one 
division being pushed Southwards into the wood of 
Vionville, while other infantry regiments seized Vion- 
ville, and soon afterwards Flavigny, compelling three 
of Korber's batteries, after firing case, to limber up 
and go back. German batteries retire at the walk, but 
von Korber, appreciating thoroughly the intention of 
the regulation, as there were no troops near who could 
be affected by the appearance of a rapid retrogade 
movement, trotted back to avoid loss from the French 
skirmishers, who came on with great dash. Captain 
Bode's battery, sheltered by the ground, maintained 
its position at the junction of the Mars-la-Tour-Tron- 
ville roads. The 12th brigade was so heavily shelled 
by the enemy's artillery that von Bredow retired it 
through the Tronville copses, and took up a position 
on the right of the nth (von Barby) brigade, near 
which position von Redern's brigade also took shelter. 
At 10 a.m. the heads of the sth and 6th German 
infantry divisions arrived in sight, and from the 
South and West the Infantry and Artillery, coming 
continuously up, gradually drove the French back. 
At 11.30 a.m. the Germans got possession of the 
Southern edge of the plateau (960) (998),* and by 
an overwhelming artillery fire shelled the French 
out of Vionville. At 12 noon Colonel von Voights 
Rhetz, Chief Staff officer 3rd Army Corps, seeing the 
French were falling back from the reservoir, which, 
surrounded by trees, lies between Vionville and 
Flavigny, sent one squadron of the 2nd Guard 

* See map. No. XX. 



2l8 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6. 

Dragoons and one squadron of the 17th Hussars 
against them. These squadrons, which at the moment 
were standing in a depression West of Vionville, 
had escorted the two Horse batteries of the loth 
Corps when they marched from Thiaucourt to join 
Major Korber. The French infantry, however, stood 
firm, and the 3rd battalion Chasseurs, which had 
not been engaged, beat off the cavalr>% the squadron 
of the Guard Dragoons alone having 70 casualties. 
At the same time the loth Hussars were sent to 
the front by General von Alvensleben, commanding 
the 3rd Army Corps, but the French were too 
steady to encourage an attack on them, and the 
Hussars retired. The regiment was then sent by 
Lieut.-general von Rheinhaben to the North of 
Vionville to make an attempt on the French right 
flank, but it was driven back by artillery fire, and 
eventually halted near the Southern end of the 
Tronville copses. Von Redern, whose command was 
temporarily reduced to six squadrons, now received 
orders to move Southwards to keep up connection 
between the 6th infantry division, and the 3rd Army 
Corps infantry, which had come up into line from 
Gorze. Von Redern, when marching into the valley 
to Flavigny, where a fierce infantry fight was raging, 
was joined by the remnants of the squadrons 2nd 
Guard Dragoons and 17th Hussars. He took cover 
behind the burning homestead, but it was difficult to 
find any protection from the bullets of both friends 
and foes. 

Du PreuiVs C/iarge. — When at noon General Fros- 
sard saw his men streaming back in disorder towards 
Rczonville, followed by the Prussian artillery and 
infantry, he ordered General du Preuil to charge 



i87a] REZONVILLE, 219 

to the Front and take the pressure off the infantry. 
At this moment the 3rd Lancers were standing to 
the South-west of Rezonville in the angle between 
the Vionville-Chambley- Rezonville roads (915),* and 
two squadrons advanced towards the Germans ; they 
were then recalled, and again sent forward, but 
apparently without any definite objective being named. 
Coming under a hot fire from infantry within 100 
yards' range, they swerved off to their right without 
closing on the enemy, suffering a loss of 32 casualties. 
The other wing then advanced, but retired before 
coming under close fire. General du Preuil, on being 
ordered to attack, had pointed out the undesirability 
of charging unshaken infantry in close formation and 
which was, moreover, still distant a mile and a half ; 
but to these objections General Frossard replied, 
" Attack immediately, or we are all lost." The Cuiras- 
siers of the Guard, in five squadrons (575 sabres), 
were standing at the time in column on the high 
ground near Rezonville^ but sufficiently retired to 
avoid the fire of the German guns. 

The regiment now deployed into three lines, the 
two first, each of two squadrons, while the 5th 
squadron was to follow in reserve. When, at 12.30 p.m., 
the regiment advanced, the first line started at "a 
wild gallop," and in order that the pace of the second 
line might be better regulated, the general placed 
himself on the directing flank.f The Prussian 52nd 
regiment (loth brigade) was at this moment moving 
North-eastwards from Flavigny, and foresaw the im- 
pending attack. The skirmishers had time to close, 

* See map, No. XX. 

t According to Dick de Lonlay, he rode in front of the second line, 
without drawing his sword, and carrying a riding-cane. 



220 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

and the 6th and 7th companies, 52nd regiment, and 
some Fusilier companies, nth brigade, halted in line 
" at the shoulder " as the Cuirassiers advanced. On 
the right or Southern flank of the 52nd were several 
deployed companies of the 6th division. At first 
the Cuirassiers' formation was well preserved, but 
after breaking into the charge at 400 yards' distance, 
and when still about 250 yards from the Prussian 
infantry, the line of galloping horses came on some 
baggage waggons and a quantity of camp equipment 
which had been thrown down, when the French re- 
treated an hour earlier to avoid the fire of the German 
Horse batteries; the squadrons, then swerving to their 
left, crowded together, and were received when at 
100 yards' range by " independent firing," which drove 
them off to the flank, and without any loss to their 
infantry. The second line came under a hot fire at 
300 yards. This ceased presently, to be renewed 
when the horsemen were but 100 yards distant. This 
second line was even more broken up by obstacles, and 
the bodies of those killed in the first line. The third 
line met a similar fate, and none of them closed on 
the infantry. The casualties were, 22 officers, 208 of 
other ranks, 243 horses. 

We will now turn to the other side. When Du 
Preuil advanced, Lieut-colonel von Caprivi, Chief of 
the Staff loth Army Corps, pointed out to General 
von Redern, whose brigade was standing to the West 
of Flavigny, the favourable opportunity for a charge, 
and at 12.45 p.m. he advanced at "the trot." The 
17th Hussars, and the remnants of the squadron 
2nd Guard Dragoons in column of troops, passed 
North of the wet meadows lying to the East of 
Flavigny, and through intervals in the infantry on 






J 



i870.] REZONVILLE. 221 

towards the French Cuirassiers, who were, however, 
already retreating. The nth Hussars moved to the 
Southward of Flavigny, and followed in echelon in 
the right-rear, having been delayed in crossing some 
marshy ground to the South-east of Flavigny. When 
galloping after the Cuirassiers, Colonel von Ranch, 
17th Hussars, saw in his front a battery, at which, 
followed by a few men, he charged. This battery had 
been brought up by Marshal Bazaine without any 
escort, and had just come into action 600 yards 
South-east of where the Flavigny track joins the 
high-road, when Colonel von Ranch, followed by 
20 Hussars of the ist squadron, rode into it. The 
nth Hussars, who in their advance had cut down 
several stragglers of the retreating Cuirassiers and 
infantry, arriving at the same moment, rode into 
the front of the battery, which had only time to 
fire a round or two. The right-half battery and 
the limbers of the left-half got clear away, but 
the gunners of the left-half battery were all killed. 
Another Horse battery, further back, having fired on 
the Prussian Hussars, was also attacked by them and 
forced to retire, after losing an officer and 27 men. 
It did not come into action again during the day ! ! 
The French Commander-in-Chief and upwards of 100 
Staff-officers, who were standing near the first-named 
battery, were borne away in the flight of the artillery 
teams. The Marshal was then attacked by a German 
officer, who, galloping alongside, tried to kill him ; 
but he was rescued eventually by General du Preuil 
sending forward from Rezonville two squadrons, which 
drove back the German horsemen who were trying to 
carry off the left-half battery. The Marshal himself 
took refuge with the 3rd Rifle battalion on the 



222 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

high-road where the Flavigny path joins it, his Staff 
galloping back to Gravelotte. Von Redern's squad- 
rons broke up after a prolonged fast gallop culmi- 
nating in the exciting pursuit and attack on the 
guns, and after suffering from the fire of infantry 
lining the ditch of the main road, they retired. The 
nth and 17th Hussars lost in this charge 114 of 
all Ranks and 104 horses. 

Advance of the 6th Cavalry Division. — The division 
composed of the 14th brigade (von Griiter's) and 
15 th Brigade (von Ranch), total 18 squadrons and 
6 guns, paraded at 5.30 a.m. to cross the Moselle 
at Corny, three miles South-east of Gorze. The 
Suspension bridge oscillated so much as to neces- 
sitate the men dismounting and crossing in single 
file, which operation was not completed till 7 a.m. 
The head of the division reached the plateau about 
9.30 a.m., and after driving back some French skir- 
mishers and suffering from an artillery cannonade, 
came under a brisk infantry fire from men hidden in 
the Bois de Vionville. It retired down the ^ slope 
about II a.m., one brigade to the Gorze-Vionville 
road, and the other brigade to the Anconville farm. 
The brigades were under cover North of the Bois de 
Gaumont when General von Alvensleben, from his 
station on Vionville hill, observed the French 2nd 
Corps falling back, and he sent orders for the division 
to pursue the enemy. The cavalry were two miles 
from Vionville, and it was not until I p.m. that the 
division, having ascended the plateau, was ready to 
attack. This movement was begun by each brigade 
advancing in squadron columns, Ranch's brigade on 
the right, with Griiter's brigade in echelon in the left 



J 



1870.] REZONVILLE. 223 

rear, the latter brigade being formed in two lines. 
During the hour's interval which had elapsed from the 
issue of the order to the arrival of the division, the 
situation had completely changed ; instead of broken 
troops falling back rapidly, there were now in front 
of the cavalry the Grenadier and Voltigeur divisions 
of the Imperial Guard, which were forming up and 
lining the crest of the ridge from the Western side of 
Rezonville, to the Bois de Vionville. The German 
artillery was in action on a North-west-South-east 
line from Vionville, to a point 1000 yards West of 
Flavigny. 

The 6th division, trotting forward through the gap, 
about half a mile wide, in the line of German guns, 
tried to open out for attack, but the space was too 
limited for deployment, and it was still more curtailed 
on either flank owing to the order of Lieut-general 
von Stulpnagel, commanding the 5th infantry division, 
given to prevent the horsemen masking the fire of 
the German batteries. Moreover, the squadrons of the 
9th and 1 2th Dragoons, hitherto acting as Artillery 
escort, had now hurried up into the front line of 
the 6th division, and the difficulties of deployment 
were still further increased by the squadrons of 
RederiVs brigade coming back from the attack on 
the Horse battery Imperial Guards, and from their 
pursuit of Du PreuiFs Cuirassiers. A portion of the 
3th division, therefore, only deployed and went forward, 
the greater part remaining halted in line of squadron 
columns between Flavigny and the Buxi^res-Rezon- 
ville road, sitting on their horses under both artillery 
and musketry fire. The small bodies of French cavalry 
had withdrawn rapidly, and the Germans, suffering 
from the infantry fire of men concealed in the ditches 



224 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

bounding the high road, as well as from the batteries 
North of it, were now convinced that an attack offered 
no chance of success. General Ranch had been 
wounded, and his successor, after assuming the com- 
mand of the leading brigade, which had by this time 
halted, retired '* at the walk " to the West of Flavigny, 
suffering some loss. Gruter's, the left brigade, in 
advancing had met on a portion of Bazaine's escort, 
who were pursuing von Redern's Hussars, and, after 
disposing of them, then also retired at " the walk " to 
the Westward of Flavigny. The advance of the 
cavalry, though not strikingly successful, had gained 
time for the scatteVed infantry units to reform, and 
for the Prussian artillery to take up a more advanced 
position. 

Von Bredow's Charge. 

By 1.30 p.m. the situation on the German left flank 
had become critical. The superior numbers of the 
enemy, consisting of the 2nd, 6th, and Guard Corps, 
had inflicted great losses on their enemies, and the 
3rd French Corps, from the direction of SL Marcelle, 
was now threatening the extreme left flank. The 
last available German infantry Reserve was engaged 
holding the Northern edge of the Tronville copses. 
The length of the Prussian line of battle stretched 
over 5f miles. The 24th regiment, as early as 
1 1.30 a.m., having been pushed forward through the 
hollow to the North of Vionville, and up towards 
the Roman road, had exhausted its ammunition. Its 
three battalions, with a battalion of the 20th regiment, 
were lying in one long thin line, and there was no 
possibility of sending more infantry to their support. 



1870J REZONVILLE. 22$ 

General von Alvensleben, commanding the 3rd Corps, 
who was the senior officer on the field, observing 
movements of the enemy which he thought indicated 
a general attack between the Roman road and the 
main road, called on the Commander of the 5th 
cavalry division to send forward a brigade to attack 
the guns and infantry in action on the ridge to the 
North-west of Rezonville. These guns not only 
swept the ridge to the Eastward of Vionville and 
Flavigny, but were now inflicting heavy loss on the 
Prussian infantry near the Tronville copses. 

The orders delivered to General von Bredow by 
the Chief of the Staff of the 3rd Army Corps were 
emphatic, and are thus given in the Regimental 
History of the i6th Lancers : "To silence the enemy's 
batteries on the Roman road, cost what it might, 
and to break through the French infantry there, as 
far as possible, in order to give breathing time to 
our own infantry. Perhaps the fate of the battle 
depends on your attack." 

General von Barby (nth brigade) was to advance 
to the West of the copses against the troops 
approaching those woods from the direction of 
Bruville. The 13th Dragoons (12th brigade) had 
been previously sent in this direction to hold the 
French infantry in check. When von Bredow re- 
ceived his orders, the two remaining regiments, the 
7th Cuirassiers (355 sabres) and i6th Lancers (395 
effectives), were halted in line of squadron columns 
at close intervals on the North-west slope of the 
Tronville heights. Just after he received the order to 
attack the troops on the Rezonville ridge, an orderly 
officer of the 3rd Corps brought instructions for two 
squadrons to reconnoitre through the woods, and up 

Q 



226 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

to the Northern end of them. It was not known to 
the general who sent this order, that the infantry 
seen in the copses were Germans. As the destruc- 
tion of the reconnoitring squadrons appeared inevit- 
able, lots were drawn to decide on whom the sacrifice 
should fall. The 3rd squadron of the Cuirassiers and 
the 1st of the Lancers drew the apparently fatal 
numbers. In the result neither squadron suffered 
any loss, and they eventually formed the nucleus on 
which the survivors of the charge rallied. Before the 
brigade advanced, the Brigadier-general explained to 
the officers the Divisional general's intention, which 
was that the squadrons should ride home on the 
enemy as far as possible, not pausing to take prisoners, 
or to gather trophies. 

The brigade now moved off to the left, the Cuiras- 
siers leading, crossing the main road about 1000 yards 
West of Vionville, then passing close to the left 
flank of Bode's Horse battery in position North of 
the village, the detachments of which cheered the 
advancing cavalry, and then trotted 1500 yards in 
the hollow East of the Tronville copses till it reached 
the spot where it had stood in the morning until 
driven back by the French shells. The brigade then 
wheeled to the right, both regiments being still in 
squadron columns. Von Bredow, when 1800 yards 
from the enemy, gave the order " Form line." As 
the Cuirassiers deployed, the gallop was sounded 
(2.20 p.m.) before the Lancers had quite completed 
the deployment They followed at 150 paces in 
echelon to the right rear, the 2nd squadron on the 
right, the 4th on the left Immediately the gallop 
was sounded the 2nd squadron was ordered to 
detach one troop* to cover the right flank, and it 

* There were four troops in a squadron. 



J 



i870.] REZONVILLE. 22^ 

soon became separated from the remainder of the 
horsemen. 

As the brigade, emerging from the hollow, ascended 
the hill to the Eastward, the Lancers passed, near 
the Flavigny-Bruvilie road, many German wounded 
infantry, who shouted out, begging that they might 
not be ridden over. The 2nd, or right squadron, 
passed through the deserted French bivouac, strewn 
with camp kettles, helmets, and other signs of a 
hurried retreat. From the moment of crossing the 
main road, shells began to fall near the brigade, but 
without causing appreciable loss. The projectiles 
were probably unaimed, for the six German batteries 
near Vionville, firing rapidly on the French batteries 
on which the attack was 'to fall, engrossed all the 
attention of the gunners. The squadrons pressed on 
at a swinging gallop, and the horses were already 
blown before the infantry, hidden by the undulating 
ground, were sighted. Nor had these daring horse- 
men been as yet observed by the French infantry. 
The commanding officer of the i6th Lancers had 
just observed to his adjutant, " I cannot yet see the 
enemy whom we are to attack," when it came in 
view, and a shower of bullets saluted the regiments. 
Volley now succeeded volley; a rapid fire from 
batteries and machine-guns, and from infantry in the 
wood near the Roman road, passed mostly over the 
heads of the squadron, and without causing many 
casualties. The Cuirassiers first struck on two bat- 
teries of the 6th Corps, and on the 9th battalion 
Chasseurs, whose rolling fire availed nothing towards 
checking the charge. These two batteries (8th Artil- 
lery regiment) were in position near the Roman road, 
and on the crest which runs thence perpendicularly 



^ 



228 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 16, 

to the main road. Behind the right rear of this artil- 
lery position stood the 9th Chasseurs, and between 
them and Rezonville were three battalions of the 93rd 
regiment, which. had been already heavily engaged. 
This regiment had received no rations, and had had 
very little to eat the previous evening. The men 
had dug up some potatoes, and were cooking them 
at 9.30 a.m., when they were ordered to stand to 
their arms. Dick de Lonlay puts the 75th, 91st, and 
94th regiments as standing between the 9th Chasseurs 
and 93rd regiments, but it was on these latter and 
artillery that the attack of the six squadrons fell, 
though the 91st later fired on the squadrons as they 
retreated. We learn from French narratives that the 
75th and 91st ran out of ammunition about 2.30 p.m. 
No. 5 battery, 8th regiment, which was somewhat 
in advance of the general line, was the first of the 
two batteries to be overthrown. As the Cuirassiers 
drew near, it tried to retire at " the gallop," but was 
at once caught up and wrecked. At 2 o'clock the 
9th and loth batteries, 13th regiment, had been sent 
forward in support of the artillery, which von Bredow 
was now attacking. While " on the move " they met 
the rush of cavalry, and suffered a similar fate to 
that which befell No. 5 battery. Two more batteries 
of the 8th regiment, standing further to the North- 
ward, " changed position left back," in order to flank 
the German cavalry, but their front was masked by the 
advance of De Forton's division before the batteries 
could come into action. At the moment the Cuirassiers 
were closing on the guns, two horse batteries of De 
Forton's division came up at the gallop to reinforce 
the guns in front ! They were met by the Cuirassiers 
just as the leading battery came into action ; both were 



J 



187a] REZONVILLE. 229 

overthrown before they could fire a round ! Simul- 
taneously a i2-pounder battery, trotting up to join 
the front line, met the stream of approaching cavalry, 
and with a like result. Swerving away to the left, 
the battery attempted to pass through the battalion 
intervals of the 93rd regiment, but driving into the 
middle of a column, it knocked down whole sections 
of men, upsetting the left wing of the 2nd battalion, 
and thus made a gap for the Uhlans. 

Up to this time the cavalry had encountered the 
9th Chasseurs and various batteries only, but had 
killed 8 officers, 154 artillerymen, and 148 horses. 
The attack of the Cuirassiers on the guns was assisted 
by a troop and a half of the left squadron of the 
Lancers, the remainder of the regiment falling on 
the infantry in the rear of the guns. As the Lancers 
approached there was a momentary hesitation in the 
battalions from the Germans being mistaken for 
French cavalry ; when the error was perceived, the 
1st and 3rd battalions tried to form square, but the 
number of Army Reserve men in the ranks caused so 
much delay that the formation was incomplete when 
the Lancers closed on them. Owing to the confusion 
caused by these events, and to the flight of the artillery 
through the Ranks, few men took sufficient time to 
aim, and many fired hastily with their rifles at the hip. 
Nevertheless, some of the infantry stood firm, though 
others turned and attempted to run when the lance 
points were close to them, and thus great slaughter 
ensued, the infantry breaking up and rushing in large 
groups towards Rezonville, Individual Frenchmen, 
however, met their fate bravely, devoted to duty to the 
last. A non-commissioned officer of the i6th Uhlans 
speared in succession all three drivers in a team trying 



230 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

t D escape, but, undismayed by such scenes, a French 
officer, sword in hand, stood in front of his guns, almost 
alone awaiting the approach of the cavalry, and fought 
the leading men, vigorously; while a gunner, single 
handed, fired round after round, till struck down by 
a lancer of No. 3 squadron. Another tall French 
gunner, wielding a sponge-pole like a quarter-staff, 
defended himself successfully against three swords- 
men, until at last he was speared. Many of the 
detachments at the last moment crouched underneath 
the guns, but were even there reached by the Lancers, 
and as Bazaine wrote — '*in two batteries there was 
only one unwounded gunner effective " ! Nothing 
could withstand this cavalry torrent, and it still rolled 
on, wrcckino^ a machine-gun battery in the rear of the 
infantry. There was now a wild scene of turmoil, 
small bodies of individual Germans and French 
fighting hand to hand. The pursuit was continued 
up to the Rezonville-Villers road, but at last the 
opportunity for the French cavalry arrived, for von 
Bredow having trotted 2 miles and galloped 2^, his 
men were now completely out of hand. 

De Forton's division was formed up at this time to 
the East of the Villers wood, and North of the Roman 
road. Valabregue's division stood with its right on 
the Roman road, to the East of the hollow which 
runs Northwards from Rezonville. As von Bredow's 
squadrons began to ascend from the low ground im- 
mediately North of Rezonville, he saw Valabregue's 
division and Murat's brigade advancing on his scattered 
troopers, and on his left rear he heard Du Gramont's 
brigade, in all 23 squadrons, closing on his men, 
who were out-numbered in the proportion of five to 
one. He sounded the "Rally," and endeavoured to 



187a] REZONVILLE. 23 1 

guide his scattered horsemen towards the Rezonville- 
Vionville road, but, breathless from the long ride 
and the exertion of fighting, on completely exhausted 
horses, they in many instances fell victims to the 
masses of hostile cavalry by whom they were sur- 
rounded. The Frenchmen's steeds were quite fresh, 
while von Bredow's horses could neither answer to 
rein or spur, and the crowd of men surged slowly 
backwards towards Vionville, the Germans, who up 
to this moment had suffered comparatively small 
loss, selling their lives dearly. Trooper Schobb, 
4th squadron i6th Uhlans, who had gained much 
renown in peaceful ** assaults at arms," was, when 
nearly alone, surrounded by several French Cuiras- 
siers. He first killed one man, then by hitting two 
horses on the head, made them turn, when he killed 
both their riders, and escaped. 

For ten minutes there was a spectacle of inex- 
tricable confusion, pursuing and retreating cavalry, 
artillery, and infantry soldiers trying to force their 
way through guns, limbers, and the bodies of the dead 
and dying men and horses. The i6th Lancers Regi- 
mental Standard bearer's horse ran away with him 
towards the end of the charge, and he shouted to the 
acting squadron serjeant-major to catch hold of his 
reins. This he did, and the horse was stopped. 
About twelve Rank and File collected around the 
Standard, and they rode back. The party approached 
the French 93rd regiment, mistaking them for a 
German corps, but on seeing their mistake, closed 
together and charged through the infantry, losing only 
one ipan killed, and two wounded. As the crowd of 
combatants turned towards Vionville and Flavigny, 
some French soldiers (9th Chasseurs, 91st, and 93rd 



232 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

regiments) having again collected, fired into the 
Germans, in some cases hitting their own men. When 
the few fugitives still remaining in the saddle got 
near Vionville and Flavigny, some German infantry- 
advancing, covered their retreat 

Von Bredow himself retired towards the main road, 
and his ultimate escape is thus described in the Regi- 
mental History of the 20th German regiment, whose 
men, lying down near the high road, watched the 
charge : " Under the powerful influence of this drama, 
the fight seemed for a moment to come to a standstill. 
This wild cavalry chase is watched with strained 
attention. Now come a scattered crowd of Cuiras- 
siers past our position, then we see in their rear a 
senior officer, soon recognized as General von Bredow, 
who is pursued closely by French Cuirassiers. The 
French are every moment gaining on the general, 
whose horse is exhausted ; they must soon overtake 
him, when a soldier of the nth company, running 
forward, shoots the leading French officer as he raises 
his sword to cut the general down. Our men cheer, 
and the French retire." 

Some of the 12th brigade squadrons had pursued to 
the North of the Roman road, and they, with other 
fugitives, retired along it into the Tronville copses ; 
and the complete dissolution of von Bredow's men 
may be gathered from the fact that amongst them on 
the extreme left were several of the 2nd or right 
squadron of the Lancers. When the brigade rallied 
in the hollow near Flavigny, the Cuirassiers numbered 
only 3 troops, and the Lancers 90 officers and men. 
Von Bredow reformed these into 2 squadrons, and 
again advanced on to the high ground, but coming 
under heavy artillery fire, retired to Tronville, and 



i87a] REZONVILLE. 233 

eventually went into bivouac about half a mile to the 
South of the resting-place of the previous night. In 
the Cuirassiers the casualties amounted to 7 officers, 
198 men, and 261 horses. In the Lancers the losses 
were 9 officers, 222 other ranks, and 224 horses. 
This loss, though heavy, was small compared to the 
advantages gained. Not only was the pressure taken 
off the German infantry, which had run out of 
ammunition, but the effect on the enemy was even, 
more marked. Marshal Bazaine sent orders that no 
fresh attack should be made by Canrobert, who, 
indeed, at this moment was not in a position to 
advance. The impression made on his troops may 
be judged from the fact that of the 3 battalions 
93rd regiment attacked by the Lancers, the left half 
of the 1st and 3rd battalions rallied near RezonviUe 
and the right half near the Roman road, Le. at 
a distance of a ' mile apart, and then retired to 
Gravelotte. Dick de Lonlay mentions cases of un- 
necessary slaughter on both sides, but the German 
Regimental histories acknowledge gratefully the 
chivalrous conduct of French soldiers of all ranks 
towards those who fell into their hands.* 

Comments, — There is much to be learnt from a 
study of the details of the operations near Rezon- 
viUe, not only from von Bredow's desperate charge, 
but from errors committed on both sides. Colonel 
Bonie, a frank critic of the French cavalry, sums up 
thus their mistakes : — 

(a) There was no unity of command. 

{b) Attacks were made on unbroken infantry. 

 German writers estimate the French cavalry as 3300 to 3100. Von 
Bredow started with 750 eflfectives, and we may assume 150 had fallen 
when his squadrons were surrounded by the French horsemen. 



234 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. i6, 

(c) Charges were begun too soon. 

(d) Ground scouts were not employed. |. 
Colonel Bonie gives most of his attention to the i, 

faulty shock tactics of his comrades, but their recon- i 

noitring and security duties also left much to be 
desired. We see how, on the evening of the isth 
August, the Germans carefully guarded their bivouacs, 
and watched all avenues of approach from the enemy's 
position, while, on the other hand, the foremost brigade 
of General de Forton's division, which was scarcely 
i^ miles in front of the infantry, had but two outposts, 
one about a mile distant, at Flavigny, and the other 
close in to the brigade bivouac. If, however, from 
these posts, too close in as they were, reconnoitring 
patrols had pushed out, only 4 or 5 miles, they would 
have got into contact with the German brigades at 
Xonville and Suzemont* 

Again, as regards reconnoitring duties. General de 
Forton reported on the evening of the iSth, that he 
had been engaged with the German infantry at 
Puxieux, whereas he had only been in contact with 
the 13th cavalry brigade (von Redern's). 

German critics find great fault with the handling 
of their cavalry generally, and argue that the 5th 
division should not only have followed up De 
Forton's and Valabregue's divisions as they retired 
at the beginning of the action, but that it might 
also have inflicted a serious defeat on the French 
infantry near Rezonville. It should be borne in 
mind, however, as regards the 5th division, that 
the German movements were ordered under the 

* The instructions for the British cavalry lay down that at daylight 
the reconnoitring patrols should make sure if there is any enemy with- 
in ten miles of the bivouac. 



i870.] REZONVILLE. 235 

supposition that the French were retreating North- 
wards on Verdun. It happened, therefore, when 
Murat^s brigade fled from the German artillery fire at 
9.30 a.m. that only one brigade of the 5th cavalry 
division was at hand, the 12th brigade being three- 
quarters of a mile North-west of Vionville, and the 
13th brigade at Xonville, four miles South-west of 
Vionville, whence De Forton's men were galloping 
in an Easterly direction. Moreover, it is certain, 
from the subsequent behaviour of the then intact 
French infantry, that it would have destroyed any 
force of cavalry which might have ventured to 
attack it. It is to be observed also that the repulse 
of the squadrons 17th Hussars and 2nd Guard 
Dragoons was effected mainly by a battalion which 
had not been engaged, and on which the retreating 
infantry rallied. Throughout the day the only 
successful attacks made on infantry were either when 
it was surprised, or when it had been shaken by 
heavy losses prior to the cavalry attack. 

Artillery Fire, — The effect of the guns on sta- 
tionary targets, or slowly moving infantry at known 
ranges, was great. French writers describe the fire 
from the German batteries near Vionville as being 
appallingly destructive. Their own batteries posted 
near the Roman road successfully arrested, in spite 
of the numerous gallant assaults made, any advance 
of the German infantry to the Rezonville plateau. 
It is not perhaps safe to draw general deductions 
from the effect of the French artillery fire, as their 
shell and fuzes were admittedly faulty. Nevertheless, 
it should be stated that the effect of their fire on 
moving targets was insignificant. The 6th cavalry 
division moved for some time in close formations 



236 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 16, 

at the walk, and trot, backwards and forwards under 
fire without suffering heavy loss. The Regimental 
Histories of the 12th brigade show also that no « 

serious loss was incurred during the advance of von 
Bredow's squadrons, nor until the scattered troopers 
of the brigade were surrounded by the French 
cavalry, most of the casualties occurring in the ten 
minutes' hand-to-hand fighting against overwhelming 
numbers (5 to i). 

Ammunition. — On the French side near Vionville, 
at 11.30 a.m., after one and a half hour's fighting, 
both gun and rifle ammunition was exhausted, and 
the three battalions of the German 24th regiment^ 
which came into action at 11.30 a.m., had fired away 
nearly all their ammunition by 2 p.m. The two 
battalions (loth brigade), which beat off Du Preuil's 
charge, lost nearly all their officers later, and retired, 
but not till after their last cartridge had been ex- 
pended. This early expenditure of ammunition is 
likely to happen frequently in future, now that the 
troops carry magazine rifles, and it will give deter- 
mined and skilful cavalry leaders great opportunities 
for achieving success. 

Cavalry against Cavalry and Infantry. — It appears 
that no attacks were made at the regulated pace ; 
once launched into the fight, leaders led so fast 
that the lines broke up into confused mobs of 
horsemen. The Germans in pursuit of Du Preuil's 
Cuirassiers were met by two small French squadrons 
(each about 70 sabres), which, from being held 
together, drove back their more numerous opponents. 

Du Preuil's Charge. — Dick de Lonlay praises the 
general for his gallantry, and mentions that he 
charged with a cane in his hand This, if accurate, 

I 

I 



I 

i 



1 870.] REZONVILLE. 237 

is not a desirable procedure.* If the general, riding 
in front of the second line, had struck the centre 
of the infantry, the men following might have broken 
it, and would not have swerved into the intervals, 
through which they rpshed without closing on their 
foes. 

On the other hand. General von Bredow led his men 
with the greatest determination ; but there can be no 
doubt that the pace was too hurried, and the horses 
were unnecessarily distressed before he closed on the 
enemy. The undulating character of the ground con- 
tributed greatly to the success of the 12th brigade. 
General von Wright, who served throughout the 
war, and, after it, commanded in succession a brigade, 
and a division of cavalry quartered at Metz, used 
to take his officers on to the field and show them 
how the undulating ground concealed the approach 
of the six squadrons. Von Bredow probably under- 
stood that the exceptional nature of the task assigned 
to him relieved him of the duty of keeping back a 
portion of his command to act as supports — as his 
namesake did so effectually at Tobitschau in 1866. 
The instructions t given by the Chief of the Staff 3rd 
Army Corps were partly the cause of the heavy loss 
incurred, for had the brigade been rallied to its right 
after it had ridden through the infantry, the greater 
portion of it might have got back safely. It is difficult 
to excuse the senior general on the spot for not 
supporting von Bredow, as the 6th cavalry division 
was close at hand. One regiment of von Redern's 
(13th) brigade was, indeed, brought up just as the 

* Colonel Bonie states he rode on the right of the second line to 
regulate the pace, 
t Quoted on page 225. 



238 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. [Aug. 16, 1870. 

French Cuirassiers ceased to pursue, but did not 
engage them, before they drew back behind their 
infantry, as it might have done. 

Contradictory deductions have been drawn from 
von Bredow's charge by partisan writers, one side 
claiming that the two cavalry divisioiis, if properly 
handled, might have wrecked all Canrobert's Corps, 
while others urge that the heavy loss of the 12th 
brigade (about 54 per cent) proves the folly of thus 
employing horsemen. The loss, however, although 
heavy, was much less than in some infantry regi- 
ments, the Fusilier battalion 48th regiment losing 
all its officers between 10 and 11 a.m. I believe, if 
von Bredow had been properly supported, the result 
would have been that some of the 42 guns he 
wrecked, and which his men were bringing away 
when De Forton advanced, would have been carried 
back to Vionville, and probably with only half the 
loss the 1 2th brigade actually incurred. 

Unfortunately, it was not till General von Bredow 
started on his heroic but desperate mission that 
General Prince Frederick Charles heard, when 
eighteen miles off, at Pont a Mousson, of the serious 
battle which had been in progress since 9.30 a.m. 
Had he been present the cavalry would doubtless 
have been handled on a definite plan ; but von 
Bredow showed what horsemen can achieve if 
vigorously led to the attack at an opportune moment. 



J 



MOUNTED INFANTRY. 



MOUNTED INFANTRY. 

I BELIEVE that in wars of the future, not only will 
Mounted Infantry be employed, in combination with 
other arms, on the Continent, but that England, with 
its comparatively small population, and its enormous 
extent of Colonial possessions, must inevitably be 
forced to employ, more and more every year, animals 
of some kind to convey infantry soldiers to the spot 
at which they are required to fight on foot. 

Since the days when the late Field-Marshal Sir 
John Fox Burgoyne wrote, "the art of applying 
Mounted Infantry to the greatest advantage is as yet 
unknown," not only has the use of Mobile infantry 
been greatly developed, but the military knowledge 
of all British officers has ripened, because they have 
seen or read of infantry being transported on many 
kinds of animals in the last quarter of a century, in 
order to obtain increased mobility. This fact, coupled 
with, the maturer knowledge of my comrades, has 
disarmed some of the hostile feelings which they first 
experienced towards the revival of the " Dragoon." 
There are, however, still some cavalry officers who 
argue that there is no necessity to teach selected in- 
fantry marksmen how to ride, alleging that cavalry on 
foot can do all that infantry can accomplish, and do it 
as well, if not better. These enthusiasts assert that it 
is possible so to train men as to render them equally 

R 



242 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 

efficient on horseback, as they can be made perfect 
when on foot ; equally confident in meeting an enemy 
whether armed with sword, lance, or rifle. That this 
is an error there can, I think, be no doubt 

The question, however, of the effect on the nerves 
of infantry, when they see determined horsemen 
advancing to attack them, may, to some extent, be 
gauged by any one of my readers who has seen a run- 
away horse galloping wildly down a street, and who 
reflects on his own feelings when there is apparently 
no possible avenue of escape ere the horse approaches 
him. Two summers ago, a horse drawing a hansom 
cab, being without a driver, ran away down Pall Mall, 
and collided with the lamp-post at the foot of St. 
James Street The lamp-post, which was of the 
ordinary kind, of cast-iron, sunk two or three feet 
into the earth, was protected by four short pedestals 
of solid stone. I did not actually see the collision, 
but when I arrived shortly afterwards, the horse was 
lying with a fractured shoulder-blade indeed, but the 
cast-iron lamp-post was broken off short at the point 
of impact, and two of the stone pedestals had been 
uprooted from their beds. If it were possible to 
obtain the same amount of determination from riders, 
as that which inspired the unfortunate horse when 
terrified by the hansom banging at his heels, all 
cavalry charges would succeed, in spite of every sort 
of missile which might be poured by defenders on 
their assailants. 

There were in the French army three brothers, 
Alphonse, Edouard, and Auguste de Colbert, all 
cavalry generals under Napoleon ; and certainly, as 
regards hand-to-hand fighting, they saw more of 
war than any one family in that period of bloody 






MOUNTED INFANTRY. 243 

battles, which began with the French Revolution and 
terminated at Waterloo. Edouard, who was severely 
wounded six times during his career, but who lived 
to write, at sixty-nine years of age, his " Souvenirs 
in^dits," when describing how he wished the last 
stage of a charge to be delivered, finished up as 
follows : " What I should like to see would be, that 
at ten paces from the enemy the bits should all 
drop out of the horses' mouths. If that happened, 
however strong the enemy might be, he would be 
overthrown to a certainty." 

If we look back to history, it is interesting to notice 
the tendency there has invariably been amongst all 
men who habitually use a fire-arm to trust to it as an 
offensive weapon. There are probably no cavalry 
officers who have studied the history of their Arm of 
the Service but who admit that under Frederick the 
Great it reached the zenith of its power. This, how- 
ever, was not effected till he revolutionized the system 
in vogue at the date of the battle of MoUwitz, where 
his cavalry, trusting in their fire-arms, were thoroughly 
beaten. The king then issued two regulations, to 
which much of the further success of his horsemen 
was due : firstly, " Any cavalry officer awaiting an 
attack will be cashiered ; " secondly, " All attacks are 
to be made without firing, and the last 200 yards at 
the gallop." 

After the death of Frederick the Great, "Dragoons" 
were trained alternately on horseback and on foot, in 
the manner ridiculed by Rogniat,* who wrote : ** How 
absurd is the manner of training our Dragoons! 
When mounted they are taught that no infantry can 
resist the impetuosity of their charges ; when drilling 

 " Considerations sur I'Art de la Guerre." 



244 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 

on foot they are taught to consider themselves in- 
vulnerable against cavalry. It is from these causes 
they are despised by both Horse and Foot." 

Napoleon, who had himself, before he was First 
Consul, formed in Egypt a corps of selected in- 
fantrymen, who were mounted on camels till they 
reached the scene of action, answered, from St. 
Helena, the criticisms on the altered system which 
he, as Emperor, had approved, and which con- 
sisted in that double training satirized by General 
Rogniat. 

For the purpose of a British Army, however, 
Napoleon conceded the whole argument when he 
laid down that 3000 men trained to fight both 
mounted and on foot ought to be equal in fighting 
power to 2000 infantry ! ! 

It is also remarkable that Marmont,* while record- 
ing that he had a mean opinion of Rogniat as a 
tactician, nevertheless adopts and reiterates all his 
views as to the training of " Dragoons," adding that 
originally they were only " Mounted Infantry," and 
they should have preserved that character. 

General Jomini, while advocating the employment 
of " Mounted Infantry," observes : " To make cavalry 
into foot soldiers, or a soldier who is equally good 
on horseback or on foot, is very difficult" Jomini, 
less sound in his knowledge of human nature than 
was the greatest Soldier of the century, ends up 
with the conclusion that " the bravest men, whether 
on foot or on horseback, will always gain the victory." 
That clever strategist often criticised adversely the 
plans of the Greatest of modern soldiers, and fre- 
quently with justice; but his knowledge of the 

 ** De 1* esprit des Institutions militaires." 



i 

1 



MOUNTED INFANTRY. 245 

feelings which actuate men in battle cannot be 
compared with that possessed by Napoleon. The 
remark that the bravest men will always win, though 
true under precisely similar conditions^ is so mis- 
leading as to indicate that Jomini did not realize 
what all European nations now understand by " Fire 
discipline." Neither Napoleon nor Jomini had ever 
led a cavalry attack; but the Emperor had witnessed, 
in twenty years, more charges than any other person 
in the world, and, as may be read in Chapter III., 
showed, at the Somo-Sierra mountain, how to utilize 
the most potent feelings in the human heart, in 
order to achieve success. Sir Charles Napier carried 
through all his operations, in the desert of Scindh, 
by the formation of a fighting camel corps, in 
organizing which he followed the principle of the 
force raised by Napoleon in Egypt forty years 
earlier. When, in 1858-59, we were chasing Tantia 
Topee, who was supposed to be the instigator of 
the Cawnpore massacre, I served as Staff officer to 
a column composed of all arms, in which the infantry, 
being mounted on camels, covered 40 miles on six 
successive days, or a total of 240 miles, halting 
merely for two or three hours at a time to feed the 
animals. 

If we turn to the experience gained in the war of 
the Northern v, the Southern States of America, we 
find General Rosser, writing in 1868, three years after 
the war, records, " Cavalry was not used on the battle- 
field as under Ney and Murat, because it was not 
cavalry ; " and he goes on to lay down that, as a 
rule, in America, cavalry should never be detached 
from the Main army without being accompanied 
by Artillery and Mounted rifles. Rosser, who had 



246 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 

distinguished himself in the war, adds : " The cavalry 
soldier should never be dismounted to fight if you 
expect him to ride over masses of infantry, and that 
he should be educated to believe that nothing can 
withstand a well-executed cavalry charge." 

Now, whatever may have been the prevailing 
thought formerly, there is no doubt that, in these 
days, the notion of forming a Jack-of-all-trades is 
not in accordance with the procedure in any other 
profession. On the contrary, a characteristic of the 
present age is division of work, and the substitution 
of skilled for unskilled labour ; and nowhere are the 
effects more marked than in the organization of 
cavalry and infantry. In a lecture I gave a quarter 
of a century ago I foretold the separation of the 
Field from the Garrison artillery, which has now 
been virtually decided upon, and on similar grounds. 
Personally, however, I do not go as far as did General 
Rosser, in saying that the cavalry soldier should 
never be dismounted to fight, and prefer to modify 
that opinion and state that *' cavalrymen should 
never be dismounted to fight when there is suitable 
ground for their employment on horseback." General 
Rosser possibly had in his mind the habits of his 
countrymen, nearly all of whom learn to shoot with 
pistols in boyhood ; many can shoot steadily from 
the saddle, and this fact would add to the tempta- 
tion of using fire-arms in a charge, which custom is 
generally fatal to achieving permanent success. I . 

believe, moreover, there was another cogent reason, I 

besides that given by General Rosser, why our brave 
cousins did but little fighting on horseback, and that 
was the unsuitability of the country. An officer who 
visited the battle-fields in America stated, in a lecture 



MOUNTED INFANTRY. 247 

given at Aldershot in 1892, that at Brandy station, 
the scene of the most important action hy Mounted 
Arms — where, however, the cavalry charged in 
columns, as all untrained horsemen must do — the 
largest clear space was under 800 yards in extent. 

Since I pleaded, in 1874, for the establishing of 
a corps of Mounted Infantry, it has been carried 
out by enthusiastic and hard-working officers, who, 
at Aldershot, have trained 150 officers and about 
4000 men * in the last seven years, besides those 
trained in South Africa and in Egypt I purposely 
exclude India, as in that country the instruction is, 
I am informed, limited to teaching men to ride, and 
to clean their horses. 

Some of my comrades of the cavalry Arm no 
longer object to infantry soldiers being mounted on 
ponies or mules, in order tQ act as scouts for an 
infantry battalion, or to do orderly duty, but they 
still oppose the idea of Mounted Infantry being 
attached to a cavalry division in the field. To such 
officers I would say, read in Kaye's " History of the 
Sepoy War" how General Nicholson, pursuing the 
rebel soldiery who had destroyed the cantonment of 
Sealkote, collected, for the transport of his infantry, 
every horse, pony, and carriage in the district ; or 
how (1894-96), in the cavalry manoeuvres in Austria, 
a battalion of Rifles was sent forward in carts to 
support the advanced Cavalry division ; or, better 
still, study what Marshal von Moltke* wrote in 1876: 
** Squadrons operating in front will be supported by 
an infantry division. The object of the cavalry is 
not to remain concentrated as for the decision of a 

* Some of them have been up twice for training, and should 
therefore be deducted from the aggregate number. 



248 ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 

battle, but its divisions will advance in various direc- 
tions, and will push forward detachments until it 
is ascertained where the enemy's main forces are 
collected. These detachments can be supported by 
small bodies of infantry in waggons." * 

Von Moltke's book, which I quote, was published 
only this year, and it is therefore the more interesting 
to observe the progress of thought amongst the senior 
officers of our Army. The General officers who 
commanded the cavalry brigade at Aldershot during 
the time I was in charge of the District, spoke very 
decidedly to the same effect as that laid down by the 
greatest of strategists. General Sir Dniry Lowe, in 
March, 1889, addressing the Militar>- Society, after a 
lecture, observed : " The use of horses and ponies by 
infantry as a means of locomotion to enable them to 
keep up with cavalry, will be an enormous advantage 
to a cavalry force ; " and again, two years later, Major- 
General Sir Baker Russell, who had succeeded to the 
command of the Aldershot Cavalry Brigade, speaking 
before the same society, was equally emphatic in 
praise of the Mounted Infantry as then organized at 
Aldershot, and he went on to argue that a cavalry 
division should be pushed at least thirty miles ahead 
of an Army Corps, with the Mounted Infantry regi- 
ment forming its moving Base. 

In my opinion, however, it is as an escort to Horse 
and Field artillery that the Mounted Infantry will 
be of the greatest use when acting with other Arms. 
With the cavalry division sent on in advance, there 

• Moltke's " Militarische Werke," herausgegeben vom Grossen 
eneralstabe ; Gtupp L., No, 3, Aua den Dicnslschriflen des Kri^es, 
$70-71 ; Erst Ablhcitung, Dei Krieg bis Zui Schlacht von Sedan. 



MOUNTED INFANTRY. 249 

will always be some Horse artillery, and although the 
Germans have never quite adopted our system, yet 
one of their recent well-known writers advocates that 
with this advanced Horse artillery force should be 
sent Mounted Infantry, well supplied with cartridges, 
to be transported on carriages. 

There is scarcely any form of escort for guns that 
can be devised more appropriate than Mounted 
Infantry, with one or more machine-guns. Such may 
remain out of sight until the batteries are attacked, 
and not only will they thus secure the safety of the 
artillery, which otherwise will inevitably fall a prey 
to an enterprising cavalry Leader, but they will also 
enable the commander of Horse artillery to act with 
much greater audacity, and consequently more effect, 
than he could if he were not similarly protected. 
Prince Kraft, though an acknowledged authority on 
Artillery, cannot be quoted with the same assurance 
as regards Cavalry, but I think as a historian he was 
scrupulously fair, and he wrote: "Since the Seven 
Years' War the pursuit by cavalry came to a stop 
as soon as they lost the certainty that they were 
being followed up by infantry." * 

When the advanced guard of the British army, 
formed by the Light division, met the Russians near 
the Bulganak river on the 19th September, 1854, 
General Sir George Brown ordered some picked 
shots (2nd battalion Rifle Brigade) to ride on the 
guns of " C " troop Royal Horse Artillery, the limber 
gunners making way for them and standing on the 
trail handles. 

During the Indian Mutiny of 1857-58, the rebel 

* " Letters on Cavalry,'* by Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe Ingel fingen, 
translated by Colonel N. L. Walford, R.A. 



2SO ACHIEVEMENTS OF CAVALRY. 

sepoys were using the " Brown Bess " musket, which 
had an eflective range of lOo yards only, but there 
must be many old officers yet serving who, like 
myself, remember that latterly we never went into 
action in Central India without the Artillery demand- 
ing, and obtaining, a few good shots to accompany 
their batteries. These marksmen were carried on 
the limbers and axle-tree seats, in addition to the 
gunners. 

It must be remembered, also, that we are not 
singular in our experience. In Tonquin, and in 
Algeria, the French carry infantrymen on animals 
of all sorts. In the latter country, by allotting a 
small mule to every two soldiers, from 45 to 50 miles 
have been accomplished in 24 hours, and 140 miles 
in three days. 

There can be no doubt that, for the British Army, 
which must necessarily be employed more frequently 
in Savage than in European warfare, and over ex- 
tensive tracts of country, such as are found in South 
Africa, trained and picked Mounted Infantry will 
prove of immense advantage, to the Army generally, 
in the future as it has done in the past, and I there- 
fore rejoice that, apparently, the system of training 
a portion of such has been permanently adopted in 
our Service. 






INDEX. 



Acquis 17 ; Austrian squadrons de- 
tached to, 31 

Adams, Major, on reconnaissance 
duty, 168 

Adige river, 144 

Alba de Tormes, French retire 
through, 68 

Albrecht, Archduke, 144 ; enjoins 
care on flank march, 181 

Albuera, conduct of Corporal Fincke 
at, 66, 67 

Aldea Lengua, Light division at, 

57 
Alvensleben, General von, 218, 224 

Ammunition, expenditure of, 97, 
236 

Anglesey, Lord, his opinion of 
King's German Legion, 61 ; error 
of, in leading, 75 

Arenstchildt, Lieut.-Colonel, 63, 68 

Aster, Colonel, details of, ill, 1 12 

Augerau, Marshal, no 

Auserwald, Colonel von, 200 ; gal- 
lant leading of, 202 

Austrian army, entrenched near 
Sambre river, 8 ; Apennines 
seized by, 21 ; ages of generals, 
24 ; movements of, 25 ; at Ma- 
rengo, 30, 31 ; preponderance of 
artillery, 31 ; Zach assumes com- 
mand of, 34 ; advancing without 
reforming, 34, 36; flight of, at 
Marengo, 37 ; cavalry rides over 
its own infantr}', 37 ; rallied at 
Pedrabuona, 37 ; at Dresden, 87, 
88 ; troops depressed and ex- 
hausted, 88 ; endurance of cavalry 
under fire, 124 

Aylett, Major, ii ; wounded, 13 



B 



Barby, General von, 209 ; position 
of, 216, 225 

Bazaine, Marshal, nearly captured, 
221 

Beamish's "History," 67 

Beaulieu, General, 5 

Bechtoldsheim, Captain Baron, 
overtakes guns, 145, 146 ; his 
horse shot, 146 ; age of, 160 ; re- 
ceives Order of Maria Theresa, 
160 

Belvedere, Count, 44 

Benatek, 163 ; causes of war of 
1866, 163 ; comparison of 
Austrian and Prussian armies, 
163, 164 ; Austrian position near 
Koniggratz, 164-166 ; description 
of ground, 164 ; characteristics of 
opposing armies, 167 ; numbers 
of troops at, 167 ; scouting badly 
done at, 168 ; German position, 
l68 ; artillery fire, 169 ; wood- 
fighting, 170; Magdeburgh 
Hussars, 172 ; careless marching 
of Austrians, 173 ; von Humbert's 
charge, 1 73 ; surrender of Aus- 
trians, 174; capture of a colour, 

174 
Benavente, British troops supported 

by King's German Legion, 61, 

62 ; Napier's description of, 62 ; 

losses at, 62, 63 

Benedek, Field-marshal, his posi- 
tion at Benatek, 166 ; his want of 
precaution, 181 

Benedetti, Count, withdrawal of, 
from Prussian court, 194 

Benko, General, 144; disaster of, 

145 



252 



INDEX. 



Bercheim, General, gallantry of, 

122 

Bessieres, General, 131 ; disobeys 

orders, 134 
Biron, General, panic of his troops, 

5 
Bistritz river, description of, 164 

Bixio, Prince, declines to surrender, 
156 ; generosity of, 158 

Blatta river, description of, 184 

Blucher, Prince, takes Macdonald 
by surprise, loi 

Bober nver, French fall back 
behind, 82 ; Macdonald surprised 
at, loi 

Boceguillas, Emperor arrives at, 47- 

Bock, Brigadier-general, watching 
ford at liuerta, 57 ; steady re- 
tirement of, 57 ; descriptions of 
his charge, 58 ; captures 3 batta- 
lions, 72 ; strength of his brigade, 
73 ; casualties, 73 ; error of, 75 

Bohemia, invasion of, 163 

Bonaparte {se^ Napoleon) 

Books, recommended for study, 19 

Bordesoule, General, compels 
Austrian infantry to surrender, 
92, 93,'i27, 131 ; his squadrons in 
a confused mass, 135, 136; ap- 
peals for support, 138 

Bormida river, 28 

Bouchain, English Hussars fired on 
from, 14 

Brandenberg, General Count von, 
ordered to attack, 200; his at- 
tack, 201 

Bredow, General von, 210, 214; 
forced to retire, 217 ; his charge, 
224 ; narrow escape of, 232 ; 
forms up survivors, 232 

Bredow, Major von, 185 ; captures 
a battery, 186 ; attacks infantry 
escort, 187 ; casualties of, 187 

Brunswick, Duke of, result of his 
manifesto, 3 

Buitrago, 52 

Bujanovics, Colonel, composition of 
brigade of, 148 ; charge of, 153, 
154; his casualties, 154; selects 
party of least-exhausted horses, 
157, 158 ; dangerously wounded, 
15^ > &g6 of, 160 



Cambronne, Colonel, captures a 
battalion at Dresden, 86 

Castel-ceriolo, held by French, 33 ; 
Ott marches to, 32 

Caulaincourt, "Recollections" of, 
IQ4 

Cavalry, swordsmanship in English, 
67, 68 ; time of training, 79, 80 ; 
refighting dismounted, 246 

Cavalry leaders, English and 
Austrian, cross swords and swear 
to ride home, 13 ; characteristics 
of, 24 ; advantages open to 
English officers, 39 ; importance ' 
of skill of, 39 ; reference for, 65 ; 
initiative of German squadron 
leaders, 71, 72 ; errors of, 75 ; 
should avoid unshaken infantry, 
76 ; instance of infantry out of 
ammunition, 97 ; enterprise of, 
189; leading and commanding, 
202 ; determination in a charge, 
242 ; idea of a charge, 243 ; 
tendency of men to trust in their 
rifles, 243 

Cerale, General, flight of, 146; 
wounded by one of his own men, 

146, 147 

Chlum, village of, 166 

Clairfait, General, marches on 
Denain, 10 

Clauzel, General, severely wounded, 
68 ; reinforced, 74 

elevens battery at Albuera, 66, 67 

Colbert, ITie Brothers de, 242, 243 ; 
idea of a charge, 243 

Crauford, General, his appreciation 
of King's German Legion, 63, 64 

Cricole, Mount, 144, 145 

Crossart, Major-general Le Baron, 
his advice rejected, 34 

Custine, General, executed by order 
of Convention, 7 

Custoza, 141 ; description of 
country near, 142 ; plan of Italian 
campaign, 143 ; advance of op- 
posing lorces, 144 ; Forli brigade 
routed, 145 ; Bechtoldsheim's 
charge, 145, 146 ; Forli brigade 
breaks up, 147 ; Bechtoldsheim's 



INDEX. 



253 



casualties, 147 , events on the 
Eastern side of, 147, 148 ; Italian 
scouting badly done, 148 ; Pulz's 
attack, 149, 150, 155, 156 ; charge 
through mulberry trees, 150 ; 
wreck of 49th regiment, 151 ; 
Lancers charge on to bayonets, 
151 ; surprise and capture of a 
battery, 152 ; panic of Italians, 
152 ; Austrian cavalry over- 
powered, 152 ; Pulz's heavy loss, 
153 ; charge by small party of 
selected horsemen, 157, 158 ; 
casualties at, 158 ; comments on, 
159 » comparison of Austrian and 
Italian cavalry, 159 ; age of 
officers in command at, 160 



D 



David, Citizen, story by, 7 
Dawidow, General, loses both legs, 

132 
Decken, Captain von Der, initiative 

of, 71 ; mortally wounded, 72 

Denisow, Count Orlow, 135 

Desaix, General, age of, 22 ; meets 
Napoleon at San Giulano, 34 ; 
disposition of, 35 ; death of, 36 

Dho, Genera], Bight of, 146 ; 
wounded, 146 

Dillon, Genera], assassinated by his 
men, 6 

Discipline, De Lamartine on, 4 ; 
necessity of, 172 

" Dragoon," The, revival of, 241 

Dragoons of Spain, 129 

Dresden, 79 ; armistice, 82 ; St. 
Cyr's position at, 84 ; description 
of battle-field, 85 ; Weisseritz 
stream, 85 ; allied assault, 86 ; 
French plan of battle, 87 ; fire- 
arms rendered useless by rain, 
87 ; dispositions of Austrians, 88 ; 
comparison of French and Aus- 
trians at, 88 ; Latour-Maubourg's 
movements, 90, 94 ; Metzko falls 
back, 90; Bordesoule compels 
Austrian infantry to surrender, 
92* 93 ; sodden state of ground, 
87, 92, 93 ; expedients adopted 



in order to break squares, 93 ; 
Murat's gallantry, 95 ; inaction 
of Austrian cavalry, 95, 96 ; 
comments on, 97 ; heavy losses 
of French, 101-103 ; starvation 
and privation of French troops 
at, 106 
Druot, General, his grand battery, 

"9, 136 
Duca, General, his squadrons over- 
whelmed, 133 



E 



Elbe Duchies, 163 

Elbe river. Napoleon's position on, 
103; bridges over, 177-179 

Elsnitz, General, arrives at Ales- 
sandria, 25 

English army, no quarter to be 
given to, 14 ; Hussars pursue 
French up to Bouchain, 14; 
charge of 15th Light Dragoon?, 
15 ; advanced guard not sup- 
ported, 15 ; swordsmanship of 
cavalry, men, 67, 68 



Fincke, Corporal, rewarded for his 

courage, 66 
Firks, Lieutenant Baron, wounded, 

125 
Fontanone stream, trestle bridge 

over, 32 ; defended by Weiden- 

feld and O'Reilly, 37 
Forli brigade, route of, 145 ; panic 

in, 146 
Forton, General de, 210, 212 ; 

obliged to retreat, 213 
Foy, General, his description of 

Bock's charge, 58 ; diaries of, 65 ; 

rearguard of, 69 ; covers forty- two 

miles in a day, 70, 73 ; capture 

of his rear brigade, 73 
France, at war with Europe, 3 ; 

goaded into war, 194 
French army, troops not wanting 

in courage, 4 ; indiscipline result- 
ing from Revolution, 4-6 ; panic 



254 



INDEX. 



of Biron's men, 5 ; assassma- 
tion of General Dillon, 6 ; youth 
of men of, 8 ; officers of, o ; no 
quarter to be given to Englishmen, 
14 ; horses underbred, 16 ; ages 
of genenUs, 20, 22 ; troops locked 
up in Egypt, 20 ; depleted by 
war, 21 ; Massena's difficult task, 
21 ; moTements of, at- Marengo, 
25, 26 ; scattered state of, 29 ; 
flight of, 33 ; flight of Consular 
Guard, 33 ; troops recalled from 
Spain, 55 ; generals of, quarrel- 
ling, 55 ; squares broken by King's 
German Legion, 72 ; reduced to 
throwing stones, 73; capture of 
a brigade, 73; Clauzel's rapid 
retreat, 74; long marches of, 
74« 75 ; heavy conscription, 79 ; 
vouth of conscripts, 181 3, 79; 
losses in Moscow campaign, 80 ; 
deficiency of non-commissioned 
officers and departments, 80; 
short of boots, 81 ; short of 
horses, 82 ; starvation and indisci- 
pline of, 104, 105 ; no corps ra- 
tioned except the Guard, 105, 106 ; 
privations of, 106 ; vrant of forage, 
107, 108 ; cavalry untrained, I(S ; 
sufferings of horses of, 109 ; noble 
conduct of a quartermaster- 
sergeant, 124; characteristics of 
generals of, 126 ; want of prepa- 
ration in, 195 ; fortresses short of 
food, 196 ; chivalrous conduct of, 
233 

French Government, insensate con- 
duct of, 7 

JFrench revolution, consequences of, 
4-6 

Friederickswerk, Fort, surrender of, 
to King's German Legion, 61 

Frossard, General, 213, 218, 219 



Gaimonal, battle of^ 44 
Galgenberg, French guns on, 115 
Garcia Hernandez, von Bock's 



steady retirement previous to, 57 ; 
descriptions of Bock's charge, 
58; rfapier's imperfect descrip- 
tion of cavalry, 59 ; action at, 
68 ; French retreat through Alba 
de Tormes, 68 ; advance of Bock's 
brigade, 69 ; description of ground, 
69; French position at, 70; 
French squares broken by King's 
German Legion, 72: French re- 
duced to throwing stones, 73 ; 
capture of a French brigade, 73 ; 
strength of Bock's brigade, 73 ; 
Clauzel's rapid retreat, 74 ; com- 
ments on, 75 

Gastein, Treaty of, 163 

Genoa, surrender of, 26 ; starvation 
of inhabitants, 26 

German Legion, King's (mt K) 

Gilsan, Major von, heroic conduct 
and death of, 170 

Gleichen, Captain von Usla, breaks 
French square, 72 ; death of, 73 

•• Golden Deeds," records of King's 
German L^on, 66 

Gourgaud, Colonel, 84 

Graham, Sir Thomas, encamped 
near Santa Marta, 57 

Guelphic Archives, 67 



H 



Haddick, General, age of^ 24 ; 

mortally wounded at Marengo, 31 
Hake, Colonel von» charge of, 136 
Hale, Colonel Lonsdale, his lecture 

on Cavalry, 66 
Hartman, General jron, 179, 180, 

18S 

Horses, French, underbred, 16 
Houchard, General, executed by 

order of Convention, 7 
Humbert, Captain von, captures a 

battalion, 173 ; strength of his 

squadron, 174 
Humbert, Prince, seeks safety in a 

square, 151 
Hussars, ordered to grow hair on 

upper lip, 10 



INDEX. 



255 



Jomini, statement of, on Napoleon 

at Dresden, 87 ; on Mounted 

infantry, 244 
Juan, General San, his position at 

Somo-Sierra, 46; murdered by 

bis troops, 47 



K 



Kaim, General, age of, 24 

Kellerman, age of, at Marengo, 
22 ; escapes the guillotine, 23 ; 
hand-to-band fishting of, 23 ; 
characteristics of, 24, 31, 35, 3b; 
covers retreat of Victor's men, 
32 ; charges of, 36, 37 ; victory 
ascribed to, 38, 39 ; injudicious 
in his remarks, 40; Napoleon's 
treatment of, 40; his peculation, 
40 ; Napoleon's generosity to, 40 

King's German Legion, Bock's 
charge, 58; Lord Anglesey's 
opinion of, 61 ; skill of Captain 
Krauchenberg, 61 ; surrender of 
Fort Fried erickswerk to, 61 ; 
support British cavalry at Bena- 
vente, 61 ; support outlying 
picquets at Benavente, 62 ; Crau- 
ford's appreciation of, 63, 64; 
French advance checked by, 
63 ; Krauchenberg's charges, 64 ; 
Wellington's approval of, 64; 
Foy's praise of, 65 ; ** Golden 
Deeds '* of, 66 ; Private Schroe- 
der's gallantry, 66 ; reward of 
Corporal Fincke, 66 ; courageous 
acts by Rank and File, 67; 
initiative of German squadron 
leaders, 71, 72 ; Bock captures a 
battalion, 72 ; French squares 
broken by, 72, 73 ; losses at 
Garcia Hernandez, 73 ; tempo- 
rary rank made permanent, 73, 
74 ; generosity of English Govern- 
ment« 75 

Klux, General, statement of, 131 

Koniggratz, Austrian position near, 
164 ; results of victory at, 193 

Korber, Major von, 214 ; advance 



his batteries, 216; forced to 

retire, 217 
Krasinski, Count, 47 
Krauchenberg, Captain, courage 

and skill of, 61; checks French 

advance, 63 ; drives French back 

with his own troop, 64 
Krisztianyi, Lieutenant, wounded, 

158 . 



Landrecies, siege of, 10 

Lannes, General, age of, 22; at 

Marengo, 32, 35 
Latour-Mauboui^, General, move- 
ments of, at Dresden, 90 ; sends 
Lancers forward, 94; wounded, 
127 
Leaders, Cavalry {see Cavalry 
• leaders) 

Leipsic, Allies advance on, 103 
Letort, General, charge of, 119 
Lewachoff, General, charge of, 118 
Lichtenstein's cavalry, flight of, 37 
Lille, panic of French troops near, 5 
Lothringen Cuirassiers, 121 
Louis XVL, Girondists' agitation, 5 
Lowe, General Sir Drary, on 

Mounted infantry, 248 
Luxembourg, Duke of, offers his 
territory to France, 193 



M 



Macdonald, General, surprised ' on 
the Bober river, 10 1 ; captures 
guns at Wachau, 119 

Marbot, his accuracy, 67 

Marengo, condition of opponents 
prior to, 20; Napoleons first 
idea, 22 ; movements of opposing 
armies, 25 ; converging armies 
come into collision, 25 ; Napoleon 
at, 28 ; description of plain of, 
28 ; disposition of French troops, 
29 ; disposition of Austrian troops, 
30 ; Pilatti moves squadrons in 
single file, 31 ; Kellerman's at- 
tack, 31 ; Ott's delay, 3a ; Victor 



2S6 



INDEX. 



retires, 32 ; French army routed, 
33 ; Lannes £ills back, 33 ; flight 
of French, 33 ; Castel-ceriolo held 
by French, 33; yand Regiment 
attacked in front and rear, 33 ; 
Melas*s exhaustion, 33; Zach urged 
to re-establish order, 34 ; death 
of Desaix, 36 ; Kellerman's 
charges, 36, 37 ; flight of Aus- 
trians, 37 ; losses, 37, 38 ; com- 
ments, 38 ; Rivaud's cavalry for- 
gotten, 38; victory ascribed to 
Kellerman, 38, 39 

Mark Kleeberg, assaulted by Prus- 
sians, 116 

Marmont, at Marengo, 35, 36 ; on 
bad terms with King Joseph, 55 ; 
in Spain, 55 ; recrosses the 
Tormes, 57 ; wounded at Sala- 
manca, 68 ; tries to deceive Wel- 
lington, 69 ; stragglers taken by, 
70 ; his correspondence with Na- 
poleon, 80, 81 

Mars-la-Tour, 193 ; French Empe- 
ror's plan, 194 ; French fortresses 
short of food, 196 ; French driven 
back from Spichcren, 196; 
French retirement, 197 ; heroic 
conduct of 1st Drs^;oon Guards, 
197 ; different views of command- 
ing officers, 197 ; description of 
ground near, 198 ; Prussian bri- 

fade defeated, 199 ; German 
atteries in danger, 199 ; situation 
at 6 p.m., 199 ; von Brandenberg 
ordered to attack, 200 ; the attack, 
201 ; von Auserwald's gallant 
leading, 202 ; ist Dragoons ral- 
lied, 203 ; German casualties, 
203 ; comments, 203 ; combined 
tactics, 203 

Mashalk, Captain Baron, 73 

Maslowed wood, description of, 
166 

Massena, victory at Zurich, 20; 
restores order and discipline, 21 ; 
his difficult task, 21 ; surrenders 
Genoa, 26 

Matloki, General von, 182 

May, Colonel, 71 

Mecsery, Captain, 12 

Melas, General Baron, seizes the 



Apennines, 21 ; age of, 24 ; 
physical strength of, 25 ; at Ma- 
rengo, 30 ; exhaustion of, 33 ; 
detaches squadrons to Acqui, 30 ; 
exhaustion of, 33, 34 
Metzko, Genera], &lls back, 90 
Mincio river, country near, 142 
Mollard, Brigadier-General, taken 

prisoner, 73 
Mongabia, 144, 145 
Mons, panic of French troops near, 

5 
Montbrun, General, given conmiand 

of the Polish Light cavalry, 50 ; 

biography of, 50, 51 

Montebello, General Ott beaten at, 
26 

Moore, Sir John, 44 ; his retreat 
covered by King's German Le- 
gion, 61 

Morand, Mademoiselle du, 51 

Moreau, General, objects to Napo- 
leon's plans, 22 ; advises attack 
on Dresden, 84 

Moscow campaign, French losses 
in, 80 

Mounted infantry, 241 ; Sir John 
Fox Burgoyne on, 241 ; *' Dra- 
goon " revival of, 241 ; Rogniat's 
ridicule of training of Dragoons, 
243, 244 ; Napoleon's camel 
corps, 244 ; Jomini on, 244 ; Sir 
Charles Napier's camel corps, 
245 ; forced marches, 245 ; Gene- 
ral Rosser's statements, 245, 246 ; 
training of, 247 ; advantage of in 
war, 247 ; General Nicholson's 
infantry, 247 ; von Moltke's 
opinion, 247 ; Sir Drury Lowe 
on, 248; Sir Baker Russell on, 
248 ; ideal escort for artillery, 

248, 249: Prince Kraft's state- 
ment, 249 ; Sir George Brown, 
249 ; marksmen accompany guns, 

249, 250 ; French infantry ride 
tie and tie, 250 ; savage warfare, 
250 

Murat, Prince, gallantry of, at 
Dresden, 95 ; his reckless bravery, 
127, 128 ; saved by an orderly, 
129, 130 ; faulty leading of, 133 ; 
criticisms on conduct o^ 137, 138 



INDEX. 



257 



N 



Napier, not favourable to cavalry, 
59 ; his description of the com- 
bat at Benavente, 62 ; inaccuracy 
of his criticism of Wellington, 

74 

Napoleon, his strategy, 19; his 
tactics at Marengo, 22 ; age of, 
22 ; organizes supply system at 
Milan, 26 : at Marengo, 28 ; 
meets Desaix, 34 ; his relations 
with his generals, 34; forgets 
Rivaud's cavalry, 38 ; his treat- 
ment of Kellerman, 40 ; arrives 
at Vittoria, 43 ; his plan of cam- 
paign at Somo-Sierra, 44-46 ; 
arrives at Boceguillas, 47 ; gives 
Montbrun command of the Poles, 
50 ; < his treatment of Mont- 
brun, 50, 51 ; enters Madrid, 52 ; 
recalls troops from Spain, 55 ; 
his generals quarrelling, 55 ; 
energy of, 80; Marmont's cor- 
respondence with, 80, 81 ; his 
power of work, 81 ; activity of, 
87 ; illness of, after Dresden, 
loi ; induced to change his 
plans, 104 ; no longer greeted 
with enthusiasm, 107 ; his want 
of consideration for subordinates, 
109, 1 10 ; his power deteriorates, 
III ; gallops to Old Guard for 
safety, 124, 137 ; asked to support 
Ney and Marmont, 137 

Ney, General, heaviJy defeated at 
Dennewitz, 103 

Nicholson, General, transport of 
his infantry, 247 

Nostitz, General Count, charge of, 
120 



Otto, General, ordered to recon- 
noitre, 10 
Oudinot, defeated at Gros Beeren, 

lOI 



O 



O'Reilly, General, age of, 24, 30 
Ott, General, age of, 24; ordered 
to Alessandria, 25 ; beaten at 
Montebello, 26; march towards 
Castel-ceriolo, 32 



Pajol, General Count, wounded, 

127 ; ordered to charge by Murat, 

128 ; valour of, 129 
Palafox, flight of, 44 
Pedrabuona, Victor stopped at, 29 ; 

Austrians retire on, 37 
Perpignan, garrison of, revolts, 5 
Pichegru, General, army of, 9 ; 

orders artillery drivers to be shot, 

.15 

Pilatti, General, moves squadrons 

in single file, 31 ; flight of, 37 

Plauen valley, events in, 92, 93 

Pocklington, Captain, captures 
French guns, 14 

Polish Lancers, at Wachau, 117, 
118 

Polish raiment, 3rd, 47 ; charge of 
escort squadron, 49, 50; Mont- 
brun given command of, 50; 
charge of, under Montbrun, 51, 
52 ; Napoleon's praise of, 52 

Portuguese troops, desert to avoid 
starvation, 56 

Preuil, General du, his charge, 
218; defeat of, 220 

Prussian infantry, long marches of, 

Pulz, Colonel, composition Of bri- 
gade of, 148; attack of, 149, 
150; heavv loss of, 153; charge 
of, 155, 156 ; his horses exhausted , 
157 ; age of, 160 



"Quadrilateral," 141 



R 



Ranch, General, wounded, 223 
Redern, General von, 209, 210 ; 

position of, 216, 218 ; charge of, 

220, 221 

S 






2S8 



Reilzenitdn, Captain 

French square, J2 
Reinjblicans, fanious resolution of, 

4 ; objection to Royalist ofBceis, 4 
Reu»<, Captain Prince, death of, 

aoj, 103 
Revel, General, escape of, i;i 
Revolmion, French, coosequences 

of, 4-6 
Retoaviiie, descriplion of ground 






I51h August, 309 ; care of Ger- 
mans, and carelessness of Frei^ch, 
onoutpottduly.Zll, 313; French 
position 15th August, 3iz ; 16th 
Augast,2ii; orders and counter- 
orders, 3IZ ; Forton obliged to 
retire, 213; Majoi von Korber's 

guns, 314; flight of Murat's 
rigaide, Z15 ; guns served by 



. the 



meets, 333-338 ; effect of artillery 
fire, 335 ; ammunition supply, 
236 ; comparison of French and 
German leading, 236, 337 

Rheinhaben, General von, 309, 313, 
318 

Rheci, General von Voights, orders 
Brandenburg to attack, ZOO ; at 
Rezonville, 213 

" on fire of, 58, 59 ; 



tendency of n 
3*3 

Rigyitsky, Colonel, cha^e of, 153, 
156 ^ 

Rocca, General de la, tries to re- 
store order, 152 

Rt^niat, ridicule* the training of 
Dragoons, 143, 244 



INDEX. 



259 



attack Dresden, 84 ; his disposi- 
tions faulty, 114, 115 ; obstinacy 
^U 117 9 gallops towards com- 
batants, 135 

Scrivia river, descriptioa of, 29 

Sebastiani, General, reproached by 
Napoleon, 108 

Selle river, operation on, 9, 10 

Senarmont, General,^ 49 

Sentheresky, Colonel Baron» 12, 

Sepulveda, attack on Spanish camp, 
46 

Skill-at-arms, importance of, 66 ; 
swordsmanship of cavalrymen, 
67, 68 

Sommariva Cuirassiers, 121, 122 

Somo-Sierra, 43 ; lesson to be learnt 
from, 43 ; Napoleon's plan of 
campaign, 44, 46; attack on 
Spanish camp, 46 ; San Juan's 
position at, 46 ; over- confidence 
of Spanish troops, 47 ; Spanish 
outpost at Carajas driven in, 47 ; 
description of defile, 48 ; charge 
of escort squadron, 49, 50 ; Mont- 
brun's charge, 51, 52 

Sopranzi, General, 131 

Soult, Marshal, subdues North of 
Spain, 44 

Spanish throne, Hohenzollem prince 
nominated for, 193, 194 

Spanish troops, defeat of, at 
Gaimonal, 44 ; flight of, to Sara- 
gossa, 44 ; Sepulve<ia camp 
attacked, 46 ; over-confidence of, 
47 ; San Juan murdered by, 47 

Stoppini, Major, death of, 145 

Suwarrow, 20; shock tactics of, 
21, 22 

Swiep Wald, description of, 166 



Tantia Topee, 245 

Tione river, 142 

Tobifadiau, 117; long marches of 
Prvsslati infantry, 177 ; retreat of 
Austrians, 179 ; von Hartman's 
cay^^ry, 179 ; want of horseshoes, 
179; long marches of cavalry. 



179, 180 ; Austrian movements, 
180; orders of march, 181; 
General Matloki,. 182 ; artillery 
driven back by infantry, 183 
retreat of Austrians, 183, 184 
description of ground at, 184 
Prussian hazardous attack, 185 
von Bredow reconnoitres, 185 , 
charge on guns, 186 ; surprise of 
artillery, 187 ; infantry escort 
ridden over, 187 ; Head-quarter 
escort defeated, 187; cavalry carry 
off guns, 187 ; casualties, 187 ; 
infantry sent forward in carts, 
187 ; comments on, 188 ; want of 
arrangements for march, 188 ; 
enterprise of cavalry leaders, 189 
Troisville, action at, 15 






Valetau, Colonel, dismissal of, 7 
Vandamme, captured, and his corps 

dispersed, 101-103 
Victor, General, age of, 22 ; ad- 
vances on Alessandria, 28; at 
Marengo, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35 ; at 
Somo-Sierra, 49 ; movements of, 
at Dresden, 89, 90 
Villafranca, country near, 142 
Villers-en-Cauchies, 3 ; number of 
French troops at, 10 ; Allied re- 
connaissance, 10 ; description of 
ground, 1 1 ; situation on 24th 
April, 1 1 ; advance of Allies, 12 ; 
French square broken, 13 ; French 
guns captured, 14; French guns 
dispersed, 14; 15th jLight Dra- 
goons charge, 14, 15 ; French 
casualties, 15 ; Austrian and 
English casualties, 15 ; Austrian 
Order bestowed ^n ofncers, 16 ; 
comments, 16 
Voights Rhetz [see R). 



W 



Wachau, loi ; conditions of op- 
posing forces, 104 ; description of 
ground, 112; French position at 



26o 



INDEX. 



1 1 a.m., 1 14 ; French big battery, 
215; flight of Allied infantry, 
X 1 5 ; engagement of French cavalry 
and Prussian infantry, 117 ; Polish 
Lancers, 117, 1 18 ; LewachofTs 
charge, 118; Saxon Cuirassier 
brigade, 1 19 ; charge of 4th French 
cavalry corps, 1 19 ; charge of 
Austrian Cuirassiers, lao ; Som- 
mariva Cuirassiers, 121-133 ; 
Lothringen Cuirassiers, 121 ; 
French lose ground, IS2 ; en- 
durance of Austrian cavalry under 
fire, 124 ; Allied position at 3 

g.m., 124, 125 ; Lieutenant 
aron Firks wounded, 125 ; open 
drain near GUldengossa, 126; 
characteristics of French generals, 
126; Dragoons of Spain, 129; 
Emperor of Russia orders up 
Reserves, 130 ; Sopranzi attacks 
Russian battery, 131 ; Saxon 
squadrons capture guns, 132; 
1st cavalry Corps attack, 132 ; 
French cavalry overwhelm Allied 
cavalry, 132, 133; Allied Sove- 



reigns in danger, 134 ; attack of 
Cossacks of the Guard, 135, 136 ; 
Ney and Marmont ask for support, 
137; Napoleon's final attack, 
137 ; criticisms on Murat's con- 
duct, 137, 138 



York, Duke of, absent throughout 
the winter from his troops, 9; 
decides to besiege Landrecies, 9 ; 
orders reconnaissance of cavalry, 
ID; rea<on for anxiety to drive 
enemy back, 12 



^ 



Zach, General, age of, 24 ; assumes 
command at Marengo, 33 ; urged 
to re-establish order, 34 ; surren- 
ders, 37 

Zastrow, General von, action of, 
119, 123. 



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